The Medical Cannabis Act has made its way past the first hurdle of many on the road to becoming law in Nebraska. It was approved for a hearing by the full legislature by the Judiciary Committee with a 6-1 vote, of which five of the six in favor were sponsors of the bill. Introduced earlier this year, activists and patients alike have high hopes for this bill – even though a very similar bill failed to make it through last year. If it were to make it to the Governor’s desk it stands a good chance at being vetoed, but with enough support from citizens, lawmakers may have a change of heart.
“I’m optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment,” Senator Anna Wishart said.
Legislative Bill 622 would legalize medical marijuana use for patients with any of 20 different conditions including HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, anxiety and opioid addiction, among others. It would create a licensed and regulated medical marijuana industry, but it would not allow patients to grow their own cannabis at home. It would also allow for cannabis to be used in pill form, as a topical lotion or spray, or vaporized – but it would not permit patients to smoke medical marijuana.
Just last week the Judicial Committee held a hearing of their own, where they listened to both people for and against the legalization of medical marijuana. The number of people there to testify on behalf of medical cannabis took up two rooms. They ended up hearing from a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mother of a child with severe epilepsy, and a physician who suffers from multiple sclerosis – all of whom would benefit from the Medical Cannabis Act being put into law for Nebraska residents who seriously want an alternative option.
“So I’d ask you why would you deny me access to a medicine that reduces my suffering,” retired physician Alan Worth asked. “Why is the remedy 500 miles west of here and not in Lincoln?”
The only vote against the bill in this round came from a lawmaker who stands by the argument that they should wait until medical marijuana has gotten approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before making such decisions. However, the residents clearly want to see medical cannabis available – and we can hope that testimonies like Dr. Worth and the others are going to be enough to convince lawmakers to do what is compassionate, and follow in the footsteps of over half of the country by passing this bill.
Even though medical marijuana may seem like a long shot for Nebraska right now, the support for medical cannabis is growing, and as more and more studies come out to prove its benefits and disprove any extremely harmful side effects it will be hard for lawmakers to continue to make excuses for not moving forward on such legislation. Hopefully, Nebraska lawmakers will realize this and move on this now, rather than forcing pleading patients to wait any longer than they have to for a medicine that will actually work.