Nebraska Medical Cannabis ‘Pill Bill’ Meets Backlash
Adobe Stock

Nebraska Medical Cannabis ‘Pill Bill’ Meets Backlash

Testifiers unified in their opposition to the legislation during a congressional hearing.

February 24, 2022

Nebraska is the only state in the country with a unicameral Legislature—one chamber—but that hasn’t made cannabis reform any swifter.

One of just 13 states remaining without a medical cannabis program, Nebraska’s legislative effort to advance a medical cannabis bill met widespread criticism from those who testified during a congressional hearing Feb. 23.

Legislative Bill 1275 intends to adopt a cannabis program that would limit qualifying patients’ access to the medicine to oil or pill form. The legislation clarifies it would not allow for edible cannabis products except for a pill.

The bill’s text lists four qualifying conditions: Stage IV cancer; uncontrolled seizures; severe or persistent muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy; and a terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of less than one year.  

For reference, a medical cannabis bill recently approved by the South Carolina Senate includes 13 qualifying conditions. The bill’s sponsor dubbed the legislation as the most conservative in the nation.

Nebraska legislators must’ve got wind. 

L.B. 1275 was first introduced by now-resigned Sen. Mike Groene, but is now being handled by Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln, who kept the bill active for Wednesday’s congressional hearing.

The feedback from those who testified was blunt. While those who spoke offered different opinions about legalizing medical cannabis, they offered unified opposition to L.B. 1275, CBS-affiliate KOLN reported.

“I wish I could say I was surprised Sen. Groene’s pill bill doesn’t even have allowances for the smaller number of patients deemed worthy to have access to medical cannabis, but I’m not,” said Lia Post, a medical cannabis advocate.

Groene’s resignation came earlier this week amidst workplace harassment complaints stemming from allegations made by one of his former female legislative aides.

But with Wednesday’s hearing on L.B. 1275 scheduled since January, Wishart kept the bill active.

One testifier pointed out a clash between the legislation’s ban on in-state cultivation and federal interstate commerce laws.

Col. John Bolduc, with the Nebraska State Patrol, testified and said, “As a law enforcement agency prohibited from utilizing the registry that would be created, it’s virtually impossible for the cannabis enforcement to be a division of the State Patrol.”

Although the hearing didn’t offer much optimism toward medical cannabis reform, there are currently four ballot initiatives—three medical and one recreational—in the signature-gathering process for the November 2022 ballot in Nebraska.

Those initiatives, along with other citizen-led cannabis efforts going on throughout the U.S., can be read about here: Voters in These 9 States Could Decide Cannabis Fate in 2022