Three bills in the Nebraska Legislature might change the use and enforcement of marijuana laws in Nebraska.
Two of those bills—LB 390 introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford and LB 643 introduced by Sen. Tommy Garrett—would examine the use of medical marijuana in Nebraska.
Crawford’s LB 390 would establish the medical cannabidiol pilot study with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The pilot program would give patients who suffer from severe, untreatable or treatment-resistant epileptic seizures access to low-THC cannabidiol oil for the purpose of the study.
After scrapping a similar bill last year, Crawford said she is hopeful for this year’s bill to pass. Now that a neurologist with UNMC has agreed to supervise the study, she said, UNMC has been willing to support the pilot program.
“The research on this has been stalled for a long time,” Crawford said. “We want to get a pilot program up and running as quickly as possible to help the families who need this kind of medical care now, where other more traditional methods have failed.”
Garrett’s LB 643, titled the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Nebraska for patients suffering from any debilitating medical condition. With 23 states passing similar laws for medicinal cannabis use, Garett said he has tried to model the best components of each of those measures.
Under the CCCA, Garrett said any licensed physician would be allowed to prescribe doses of cannabis like any other prescription drug. The bill would also require the development of a computerized verification system and create an 11-member board to advise the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. LB 643 would require not-for-profit “Compassion Centers” to cultivate and dispense cannabis to qualified patients with a state-issued identification card.
“Research has shown marijuana’s medical efficacy and its palliative effects for those with debilitating illnesses,” Garrett said. “There are people right now suffering from these conditions, where traditional prescription drugs haven’t done anything to help. We ought not to keep this medicine from those who would benefit immensely from it.”
A third bill, LB 326 introduced by Sen. Matt Williams would look to clarify penalties for possession of marijuana as well as THC-related substances and synthetic THC products.
Williams said LB 326 would not change the penalties of marijuana possession, but would clarify the definition of marijuana possession to include any substance containing THC.
The bill would also make the possession of substances containing synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2, a Class IV felony. The manufacturing of such edible products would become a Class III felony.
Williams said that motivation behind the bill has been the need to update this definition so law enforcement and communities can uniformly enforce more penalties for all THC-related substances.