Nebraska’s Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts on March 10 said that pushing for marijuana legalization is putting children in danger.
“If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids,” Ricketts said at a news conference held by Smart Approaches to Marijuana before a committee hearing. “That’s what the data shows from around the country.”
“It’s dangerous to go around the established process we have to determine whether or not drugs are safe and effective,” Ricketts said.
A bill (pdf) in the legislature’s Judiciary Committee would legalize medical marijuana recommended by a practicing physician, and the physicians would have control over their patients’ marijuana consumption.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, allows for the cultivation, processing, and use of cannabis for medical purposes, as well as creating a regulatory and fee structure, oversight board, and enforcement department.
Wishart told the committee that “a lot has changed in the hearts and minds of countless Nebraskans who are impacted by” the bill, hoping the bill could pass in the legislation this year, according to The Grand Island Independent.
After a similar bill last year didn’t pass, Wishart helped to push a petition to put the question of legalizing medical marijuana onto the ballot.
A Nebraska Supreme Court removed the legalization measure last year from the ballot with a vote of 5–2 because of a rule that does not allow issues being bundled into a question with a simple yes or no answer. The measure included the right to use and grow marijuana as well as how to regulate it.
Wishart, a major supporter of legalizing marijuana, said Wednesday that advocates would propose a one-sentence ballot measure in case the medical marijuana legalization bill does not pass the Judiciary Committee of the state legislature.
The Associated Press reported that advocates believe the court will accept this year on the ballot as they have revised the measure.
The medical use of marijuana has been legalized in many states. Some states have even legalized recreational use, which remains controversial.
While most West Coast states have legalized use, including recreational use, such as California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii, most of the states in the central and southeastern region of the country continue to criminalize the drug. Marijuana is a controlled substance in the six states of Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. Most other states have legalized it, meaning that there are no arrests, prison time, or criminal records for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption, according to DISA Global Solution, a drug testing and pre-employment drug screening firm.
The House passed legislation on Dec. 4, 2020, decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, but it wasn’t brought up in the Senate. During the campaign trail, President Joe Biden said that he may not legalize marijuana on the federal level, as he’s concerned the substance is a “gateway drug.”