LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A invoice to legalize and tightly regulate medical marijuana hit a wall of resistance within the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday, despite the fact that some opponents acknowledged that rejecting it would pave the best way for a a lot much less restrictive poll measure that voters would prone to approve.
Opponents mounted a filibuster to attempt to block the measure throughout a debate that was anticipated to stretch into Wednesday night.
Supporters mentioned the invoice would give Nebraska one of many nation’s most conservative medical marijuana legal guidelines and warned that they might take the difficulty to voters if lawmakers reject it as they’ve accomplished with related measures for years. Medical marijuana poll drives have been overwhelmingly profitable in even probably the most conservative states, and it’s broadly believed that Nebraska would see the identical consequence.
“No amount of money or opposition is going to silence the people of Nebraska on this issue,” mentioned Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, the invoice’s most important sponsor.
Wishart mentioned she launched the invoice to present lawmakers “one last chance” to approve one thing that they will management earlier than backers take the matter to voters in 2022. She mentioned her invoice is so watered down from earlier variations that she’s gotten pushback from legalization advocates and individuals who could be excluded from getting the drug.
“It’s time to accept the fact that this is the last train out of town if you want to regulate this,” mentioned one other supporter, Sen. Steve Lathrop, of Omaha.
The newest model of the invoice would legalize the drug for medical makes use of, however just for 17 illnesses and illnesses, together with most cancers, glaucoma and publish traumatic stress dysfunction. Smokable marijuana would stay unlawful, and the state would restrict the variety of dispensaries and require docs to get additional coaching earlier than they might advocate it to sufferers. Patients could be barred from rising their very own provide or possessing greater than 2.5 grams directly, and people who violate the legislation could be completely disqualified from this system.
By distinction, activists are getting ready a poll measure that might assure a constitutional proper to make use of marijuana for medical causes, with no different restrictions. Supporters simply certified the difficulty for the poll in 2020 — accumulating 196,000 signatures amid the coronavirus pandemic — however the Nebraska Supreme Court blocked it on a technicality that supporters mentioned they’ve since fastened.
Opponents argue that marijuana continues to be unlawful beneath federal legislation, despite the fact that most different states permit some type of public entry. Others view it as a slippery slope towards legalization for leisure use and say they’re fearful concerning the impression on public well being. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts is fervently opposed as properly.
“All of this to me is a gateway,” mentioned Sen. Joni Albrecht, of Thurston. “I’m not going to stand here and develop a policy when I just don’t know what it’s going to do to people.”
Sen. Curt Friesen, of Henderson, mentioned he believes voters would approve a legalization measure if it goes to the poll. But he mentioned he doesn’t suppose state lawmakers are certified to determine whether or not it’s protected for medical use.
“I think people need to be educated as to what the dangers are,” he mentioned.
Sen. Matt Williams, of Gothenburg, mentioned he doesn’t doubt public opinion polls that present sturdy statewide assist for legalization, however his constituents have largely informed them that they’re opposed.
“In my district, I’ve been sent a clear message,” he mentioned.
Sen. John Lowe, of Kearney, mentioned he had “grave concerns” about legalization and famous that the drug is stronger now than prior to now. He asserted that heavy customers typically face long-term well being penalties, and mentioned he was fearful about individuals driving impaired.
The statements carried little weight with some supporters, who accused of opponents of constructing unserious arguments and never addressing the precise deserves of the invoice. Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, mentioned lawmakers had been having “a 1992 level discussion” that didn’t acknowledge the nationwide motion towards legalization.
“We aren’t starting from a serious premise,” she mentioned, including that she has tried marijuana earlier than, “because I’m 35 and I’m normal.”