Forty-seven states have legalized cannabis in some form. Thirty-six of those allow the use of all forms of medical cannabis — half of those also allow recreational use — and 11 states allow its medical use but restrict the drug’s THC content and delivery methods. Only Nebraska, Idaho and Kansas criminalize all cannabis sales containing THC.
Pharmaceutical opiates are presently the drug of choice for pain relief; as a result, we are now facing an opiate addiction epidemic. Last year Nebraska had an all-time high of 209 overdose deaths. I don’t need to mention the untold deaths from abuse of alcohol and over-the-counter painkillers. Cannabis, which has no statistically documented overdose cases, is proving to be a reasonable alternative to the overuse of Big Pharma’s deadly opiates.
There are two marijuana petitions circulating in Nebraska, one would allow all forms of cannabis for medical reasons, including smoking; the other would legalize it for all purposes, including recreational. Both petitions would create a constitutional right for individuals to use cannabis. I will not support either.
Polling shows medical marijuana is supported by a large majority of Nebraskans. There is just too much anecdotal testimony from family and neighbors about its medical benefits for most Nebraskans to continue to oppose it.
I voted in favor of medical marijuana for the first time on LB 474; it fell two votes short of the 33 needed for cloture. I believe a petition that will alter our constitution will pass, even easier then Medicaid and gambling expansion did. If the full legalization petition becomes law, we will become Colorado; if the medical-use-only petition passes, we will not be able to limit the drug’s THC levels or delivery method to only pill, liquid or vapor forms. In either case, we will have the stench of the cannabis smoke all around us.