Although Nebraska was one of the primary states behind a 2014 lawsuit against Colorado’s legal cannabis trade, state lawmakers are now pushing for legislation aimed at legalizing a basic medical marijuana program.
A bill introduced earlier this year by State Senator Anna Wishart called the “Medical Cannabis Act” is being given some serious consideration in the halls of the Nebraska Legislature. The proposal would allow patients suffering from a variety of health issues, including glaucoma and muscle spasms, to have access to certain cannabis products. The bill would not, however, permit patients to smoke marijuana or engage in home cultivation.
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The Medical Cannabis Act made its way out of committee last month and now heads to the Senate floor for another round of debates. Although the proposal comes with the usual opposition, specifically the Nebraska State Patrol, Wishart says she is “optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment,” according to a report from the Omaha World Herald.
If the proposal goes the distance, making its way through the legislative grind and signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts, the state’s medical marijuana program would be launched in the summer of 2018 – being overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. It is this agency that would be responsible for establishing the patient registry, which would only be made available to those patients with a recommendation from a state licensed physician. From that point, qualified participants would be allowed to purchase pills, liquids, oils and vapors from their neighborhood dispensary.
The non-smoking medical marijuana model is becoming increasing more popular all across the United States. Both Minnesota and New York do not permit smoking as part of their respective medical marijuana programs, although there is a bit of a legislative push this year to give patients the freedom to consume their medicine in any manner they see fit.
But the problem with the no smoking plan, as we have seen in both Minnesota and New York, is high production costs for pills and oils is so expensive that it drives up the overall price for patients – many of which are on disability and/or a fixed income. Some patients have reported spending in upwards of $2,000 per month on these types of products.
What makes the situation even worse is the medicine purchased under a state medical marijuana program is not covered by insurance. Not to mention, any patient caught trying to save money by growing their own is still subject to harsh criminal penalties, which in some cases can involve prison time.
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