The first arguments surrounding a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska were heard in the state Legislature on Thursday, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. State Sen. Tommy Garrett, the bill’s backer, appealed to his fellow lawmakers’ hearts by arguing that medical marijuana would help many of the state’s sick, including children with debilitating seizure conditions.
"It was heart-wrenching to hear the testimony” of mothers whose children suffer from epilepsy, Garrett, a Republican, told senators, the Journal Star reported. "There are a lot of sick and ailing Nebraskans who are out of options. … If you would have told me a year ago that I would be sponsoring a medical marijuana bill as my priority legislation, I would have told you [that] you were nuts.”
Garrett introduced the proposal, Legislative Bill 643, in January. The measure would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma and HIV, to register with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services for medical marijuana ID cards. Cardholders would be allowed to possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at a time.
The bill has its opponents. Republican state Sen. Lydia Brasch expressed concern over what she said were “unforeseen consequences” if the state were to legalize marijuana, and state Sen. Mike Gloor, a nonpartisan, said lawmakers shouldn’t “rush to compassion,” the Omaha World-Herald reported. The state Senate is expected to debate the bill again next week.
In April, family members of children with epilepsy met with Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts to voice their support for legal cannabis, which has been shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms of seizure conditions without the side effects of prescription drugs. Ricketts has described marijuana legalization as a “risky proposition” and said he thought the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should approve it as safe before states legalize it. He said he opposes legalizing pot in Nebraska.