A battle has been engaged at the state Capitol as the legislature considers whether to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Prior to the Judiciary Committee hearing on LB 110, called the Medical Cannabis Act, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley held a news conference which featured opponents of steps toward the legalization of marijuana for any purpose, that news conference featuring former Congressman and Husker Head Football Coach Tom Osborne.
Osborne tells reporters he had made “somewhat of a pledge to stay out of the political arena,” but felt the issue was so important, he volunteered to join the effort of the governor’s office as well as the office of the Attorney General in coming out against LB 110.
Osborne says he is most concerned about how legalization will affect young people. Osborne says Nebraska began drug testing of football players in 1985 and found that few players who had habitually smoked marijuana could break the habit. He calls claims that marijuana is not addictive or dangerous myths.
“You had a lot of guys with a lot on the line. They had a scholarship on the line, the opportunity to play football and yet even with that on the line they were not able to stay away from marijuana,” according to Osborne.
But, the sponsor of the medical marijuana bill, Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, tells the Judiciary Committee the fear of marijuana has been overblown.
“Colleagues, no one has died. There is no fatal overdose in the history of cannabis,” Wishart testifies. “According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no listed case of cannabis as the cause of death.”
Wishart says the same cannot be said about prescription drugs.
Wishart says she brought the bill on behalf of “countless Nebraskans” who seek relief from chronic pain or control of difficult medical conditions through marijuana. Wishart insists her bill would create a system to safely regulate the production of cannabis in Nebraska and distribute it to the patients who truly need it.
The hearing before the Judiciary Committee is the first step for the bill to come before the full legislature for debate. The Unicameral has rejected legalizing medical marijuana in the past.