Medical marijuana bill draws passionate support, opposition

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska is drawing passionate support from people who want the drug to treat chronic conditions, but opposition from top state officials, law enforcement and former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne.

Both sides made their case Friday to lawmakers and the public.

The bill's lead sponsor, Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, says the bill would help people who are suffering from debilitating seizures, nausea from cancer treatments and other chronic ailments.

Wishart has promised to launch a statewide ballot campaign if lawmakers don't pass a legalization measure.

Gov. Pete Ricketts opposes the measure, arguing that legalization for medical purposes could open the door to recreational use.

Osborne, a former Republican congressman, said Friday morning that he believes marijuana is addictive and dangerous.

Osborne said, "I made somewhat of a pledge to stay out of the political arena and here I am."

With that, Osborne recalled his coaching days and the notifications that incoming players would receive about marijuana use. He said those who wound up testing positive didn't last long in the football program.

"We had a lot of guys with a lot on the line," and he said even with all that at stake, "they were not able to stay away from marijuana."


Former Republican congressman and Nebraska Football coach Tom Osborne discussed his concerns over a medical marijuana bill at a news conference, Friday morning, before a legislative hearing on the topic.