Nebraska Legislature considering medical marijuana bill
Last update: April 10, 2017
Last year, the Nebraska Legislature came very close to passing a medical marijuana bill, but the bill failed in its final moments. The Nebraska Unicameral has another chance this year with LB 622, a bill that would create a medical marijuana program and provide safe, legal access to medical marijuana for suffering Nebraskan patients. The bill was introduced by Sen. Anna Wishart and has the support of 10 co-sponsors. Read a summary of the bill here.
The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee advanced LB 622, a bill that would permit manufacturers and distribution centers to provide medical marijuana to patients suffering from 19 different medical conditions, including seizures, anxiety, or “any other illness for which medical cannabis provides relief as determined by the participating health care practitioner.” While patients could not smoke the drug or grow the plants, they would be allowed to take medical marijuana in pills, oils, liquids or lotions, or through vaporizers.
LB 622 will face resistance when it reaches the floor, and again if it reaches Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk, since he was against a similar medical marijuana measure last year. However, sixty percent of Nebraskans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. If you live in Nebraska, contact your senator today and tell him or her it’s time for Nebraska to move forward with a compassionate medical marijuana program.
Nebraska is one of the 21 states that do not jail first-time offenders 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, Nebraska has one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the country, with 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 learn more about Nebraska’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D. You can also read about why states should replace marijuana prohibition 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, while allowing police to focus on serious crime.
Contact us: Let us know if you’d like to be involved in the fight for sensible marijuana policy in Nebraska by emailing [email protected]. Please let us know if you’re a medical professional, a seriously ill patient or loved one of a patient, or someone else with a personal connection to the issue.
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