A new proposal is being considered by legislators in Nebraska that would allow for the use of medical marijuana, which would make it the first heartland state to do so. A traditionally red state, Nebraska joined Oklahoma in suing Colorado after the Rocky Mountain State approved adult-use marijuana in 2014. The two states argued that growers in Colorado were illegally selling marijuana in their states. However, Nebraska now could potentially join the list of states where medical marijuana is allowed. Legislators are currently considering a proposal from State Senator Anna Wishart called the Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow use of medical marijuana in certain cases.
Wishart, a freshman member of the senate who won election last November, represents the Lincoln area. The proposal passed out of committee in March and will now go to the Senate floor. Opposition is expected by members of the Senate. The head of the Nebraska State Patrol has already testified against the bill, as has a representative of the state attorney general’s office. Governor Pete Ricketts also opposed a similar measure last year. Wishart stated she is “optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment.”
As with many states that have legalized medical marijuana, the Nebraska proposal would permit those suffering from certain chronic or severe diseases and conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. They include glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizures and severe and persistent muscle spasms. Those with cancer or a diagnosis of having less than a year to live who also experience chronic pain or nausea would also qualify.
Patients would need to submit all the required paperwork to the state along with a physician’s prescription. The program would be open only to Nebraska residents who enroll in a state registry. The program would be overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. In a departure from many states, the Nebraska law would not allow patients to smoke marijuana. Instead, it would require use through pills, liquids, lotions, or a vaporizer.
However, the details of the proposal, which mostly mirror those in other states, seems less relevant in the national picture than the political and geographical position of Nebraska. More than half of American states have some form of legalized marijuana. However, despite polls showing support nationwide for medical marijuana, the legalization effort has, to date, skipped two large sections of the country: the midwest and the south.