The fight to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska is far from over. A state senator plans to reintroduce a bill this session, keeping hope alive for those who want it legalized.
State Senator Anna Wishart, a driving force behind previous medical marijuana proposals, plans to try again.
Legalization of Medical Marijuana
After the medical marijuana bill died in committee last year, it became a battle to get the issue before voters. However, the organization Nebraskans For Medical Marijuana did not collect enough signatures to place the issue on the November ballot.
Senator Wishart plans to introduce a new bill. While the language has not yet been finalized, she has stated that it will be similar to the one she spearheaded in 2021, which did not survive the filibuster. That bill received widespread support, but also criticism and questions about THC levels and constitutionality.
Crista Eggers of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana spoke with NOW on Friday, 10/11. She and the rest of the group have been fighting for legalization for more than five years, she claims. They are hopeful that progress can be made with a new legislative session, some new senators, and a new governor.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, according to Eggers, is waiting to learn more about the new bill because it is still in its early stages and hasn’t been seen yet.
On the first floor of the capitol, there are now information displays in support of medical marijuana legalization.
The first bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes was defeated eight years ago by Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett.
Similar Proposal Failed In The Past
Similar legislation has failed in the past, but in 2020, a medical marijuana ballot initiative was on its way to a near-certain victory before being thrown off the ballot by the Nebraska Supreme Court for violating the state’s “single subject” rule for such initiatives.
“It is long past time for Nebraskans to have access to a far safer alternative medicine,” said the senator.
Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states, including Missouri and Colorado. LB 588 is similar to a bill introduced in 2021 that failed to overcome a filibuster by two votes.
According to Eggers, a spokeswoman for Nebraska Families for Medical Cannabis, the bill prohibits smoking marijuana as medicine and home cultivation of cannabis, and it has a more limited list of ailments that can be treated with cannabis.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, is not included, despite support for cannabis use for PTSD from some veteran organizations, including the American Legion.
New Gov. Jim Pillen appears to be on the same page as his predecessor, Gov. Pete Ricketts when it comes to legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes. Ricketts opposed legalization unless there was testing and marijuana was approved as a drug by the FDA.