Senators debate medical marijuana bill

LINCOLN, Neb. 33 other states have legalized some form of medical marijuana but supporters said Wednesday night the debate is about educating their Nebraska peers.

The debate lasted about three hours, but ended without a vote.

This is only the second time that a bill like this has made it to the full legislature for debate.

If passed LB 110 would make medical marijuana legal in Nebraska. Those in favor are hoping those on the fence can get behind the heavy regulations it includes. Like limiting the amount of cannabis a patient or caregiver can have and not allowing smokeable marijuana. Patients would also have to qualify and register with the state.

"We cannot deny the fact that Nebraskans are currently utilizing cannabis,” said Senator Anna Wishart who introduced the bill. “I hear from a lot of them every day. They'll either buy it illicitly, where they don't know what it could be laced with or whether it's moldy, or they go to another state and purchase it recreationally. The problem is that these are sick people and they should be interfacing with a doctor."

Opponents say marijuana is still classified as a schedule one drug and federally illegal.

“The year after [Colorado] approved medical marijuana was the highest year in fatalities on Colorado highways. So don't tell me that marijuana doesn't kill people," said Senator Steve Erdman of District 47.

Activists are also in the middle of a medical marijuana petition drive. The goal is to get it on the 2020 ballot, and it would have far fewer restrictions than LB 110.

Senator Wishart says she needs 33 votes to get the bill debated which likely won’t happen. She says this failure means they’ll start a more aggressive push on the ballot initiative.