A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska is drawing passionate support from people who want the drug to treat chronic conditions, but opposition came from top state officials, law enforcement and former Nebraska Congressman and football coach Tom Osborne.
Both sides made their case Friday to lawmakers and the public.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, says the bill would help people who are suffering from debilitating seizures, nausea from cancer treatments and other chronic ailments. Wishart attended Friday’s Public Hearing of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee and said “over 70% of Nebraskans support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.”
Wishart has promised to launch a statewide ballot campaign if lawmakers don’t pass a legalization measure.
Lincoln Radiologist Dr. Kim Coleman said: “As a physician and scientist, I do believe there is sound evidence to have legal cannabis for specific medical conditions for some patients.”
Another supporter of the bill, Shelley Gillan told Committee members that she is the mother a 16-year-old who suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, “a rare, catastrophic seizure disorder.” She believes that medical marijuana will have positive effects on her son’s condition.
Many opponents of the issue were also in attendance at the Public Hearing Friday.
Mary Hilton believes that “much more research is needed for there to be positive proof that any medical advantage of marijuana would outweigh the dangers.”
“LB-110 does not make Nebraska a better, healthier place to live and work,” said Jim Jensen, another opponent of the bill.
Linda Thorson spoke to committee members about how her son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she believes that marijuana “was the likely contributing factor that destroyed [her] son’s mind.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts opposes the measure, arguing that legalization for medical purposes could open the door to recreational use. Osborne, a former Republican congressman, says he believes marijuana is addictive and dangerous.