Last Update: November 20, 2014

Nebraska adjourns 2014 legislative session

The Nebraska Legislature adjourned on April 17; unfortunately, they failed to protect Nebraskans, even the seriously ill, from penalties for the use and possession of marijuana. However, Nebraska Sen. Sue Crawford (Bellevue) did introduce legislation that would have allowed individuals suffering from epilepsy to use medical marijuana oil that is less than 0.3% THC to treat their conditions with approval of their physicians. “Will’s Law” – or LB 1102 – would have gone a long way toward helping families who cannot find relief from seizures through prescription medications, but it also would have left thousands of Nebraskans who could benefit from medical cannabis without legal protections.

Next year, lawmakers should consider a medical marijuana proposal that would protect not only people suffering from seizure disorders, but those with multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other serious illnesses as well. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now provide protection from criminal penalties for individuals who use medical marijuana with their doctors' appoval; it's time Nebraska join this list. Please email your state legislators to ask them to provide medical marijuana patients with the protection they need; ask them to support a sensible medical marijuana program.

Did you know Nebraska is a "decrim" state? 

Nebraska is one of the 15 states that fine, instead of jail, individuals found in possession of a small amount of cannabis. First offense possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable under Nebraska law by a $300 fine (and a possible drug education course) instead of jail time, and is a citation as opposed to an arrest. Second offense possession of up to an ounce carries a $400 fine and up to five days in jail, and third offense possession is punishable by up to a week in jail and a fine of $500. Second and third offense possession are misdemeanors, but are only citable, and not arrestable, offenses.

Even so, there were still 7,756 marijuana arrests and/or citations in 2012. Unfortunately, these arrests disproportionately affect minority communities. According to the ACLU, African Americans in Nebraska are nearly five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors, despite similar use rates. You can write your state legislators to ask them to end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system that legalizes marijuana for adults 21 and older and regulates it like alcohol. This approach would take the lucrative product off the criminal market and create thousands of legitimate jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. It would also allow police to focus on serious and violent crime.

You can learn more about Nebraska's marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.

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