Latest medical cannabis bill looks to establish conservative system

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The battle over medical marijuana has been a long one in Nebraska.

From failed bills in the legislature to petition drives failing on technicalities there hasn’t been much success for supporters.

But what they might lack in success they make up for is persistence.

“To have medical cannabis as an option, to talk with their doctors about it. This is the way to do it, this bill is drafted beautifully and it would be one of the most narrow, conservative bills in the nation,” said Crista Eggers with Nebraska Families for Medical Cannabis.

Narrow and conservative are probably the best words you could use to describe LB588, the latest bill looking to legalize medical cannabis.

Under the bill, patients would have to have one of a narrow set of diagnoses and written certification from a physician. Under the language of the bill, only 16 conditions qualify.

That certification would need to be renewed every 90 days.

For providers, any prescription must come with a physical examination and assessment for drug or alcohol abuse, or a family history of mental illness.

There is also a limit on how much doctors are allowed to prescribe in a year.

The bill also establishes a medical cannabis board, featuring 7 members appointed by the governor to act as a regulatory body.

The bill will be coming in front of a much more conservative body than what it would’ve faced in 2022 but that isn’t worrying the bill’s introducer too much.

“It’s a more conservative body but a lot of us have found, especially those of us who have gone out to the third district and some of the most conservative parts of the state and country is this issue is very bi-partisan. Polling we have done, if the 3rd district alone were to exclusively vote on this issue the issue would pass on the ballot,” said Senator Anna Wishart, the introducer of LB588.

The bill isn’t just a potential piece of legislation but also an ultimatum for conservative senators.

Wishart and her supporters know they can gather enough signatures to get marijuana on the ballot.

They have done it twice already, only losing out on technicalities and believe it’s only a matter of time before one is successful.

So conservative senators are left with two options.

Play ball on LB588 and have a say in the process, or leave it to the voters and be left out.

“If they don’t step up and do something they have to understand, I would hope, the next step is gonna be. That is going to be a broader initiative process. Do they want a hand in crafting this, or do they not want a hand in crafting that?,” said Dominic Gillen, the father of a child whose seizures could be treated with Medical Cannabis.

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