Supporters, critics fill hearing room to testify on Nebraska Legislature's medical marijuana bill

Supporters, critics fill hearing room to testify on Nebraska Legislature’s medical marijuana bill

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LINCOLN — Patients suffering from chronic pain, seizures and other debilitating illnesses pleaded with Nebraska lawmakers Wednesday to legalize medical marijuana, while law enforcement officials joined the state’s top doctor to reject a path taken by 28 other states. Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee listened to more than three hours of testimony from those who packed a hearing room at the State Capitol. After taking a break to conduct additional hearings on other bills, the senators planned to resume the hearing Wednesday evening. The Medical Cannabis Act would authorize a limited number of manufacturers and distribution centers to provide medical cannabis for those suffering from 19 different illnesses or conditions, including opioid addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or “any other illness for which medical cannabis provides relief as determined by the participating health care practitioner.” State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, the sponsor of Legislative Bill 622, said her proposal would allow patients to ingest medical marijuana in pills, oils, liquids, lotions or through a vaporizer. It would not allow patients to smoke the drug or grow the plants. Because the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal controlled substance, patients would have to pay for medical cannabis out of pocket rather than with Medicaid or private health insurance. The bill calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to regulate and administer the medical cannabis program. A fiscal analysis of the bill estimated the cannabis program would generate state expenditures of $1.4 million per year while creating revenues of about $560,000. Wishart has proposed an amendment to her bill that she said is intended to make the medical cannabis program revenue neutral, although an updated economic analysis of the amendment has not yet been completed. Among those who testified in support of the bill are two […]

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