Nebraska’s tough approach to medical marijuana may backfire – Bellingham Herald

In this April 11, 2019 photo, Shelley Gillen is photographed in her Bellevue, Neb., home with her 17-year-old son, Will, who wears a helmet to protect him from damage during debilitating seizures. Gillen advocates the legalization of medical marijuana that could help her son’s seizures. Nebraska’s conservative lawmakers are poised to once again reject measures calling for allowing limited and highly regulated use of medical marijuana, but their decision this year could have the unintended consequence of ushering in one of the most unrestricted medical marijuana laws in the country. Nati Harnik AP PhotoLINCOLN, Neb.

Year after year, Nebraska’s conservative lawmakers have rejected measures calling for limited and highly regulated medical marijuana.

They’re poised to do it again, but their decision this year could have the unintended consequence of ushering in one of the most unrestricted medical marijuana laws in the country.

If so, Nebraska will join a growing number of conservative states with unusually easy marijuana access, all because red-state lawmakers refuse to touch the issue and thereby make way for ballot initiatives.

Last year, Oklahoma became a vivid example. Billboards there now display a smiling white-coated doctor offering same-day service for marijuana prescriptions. Idaho, Wyoming, and Mississippi may face marijuana ballot initiatives soon after legislators rejected medical marijuana with tight controls.

Meanwhile, 18 other states, including more liberal Illinois, New York and Vermont, have legislated restrictions that make legal marijuana harder to get.

“It’s a head-scratcher,” said Bryan Boganowski, founder of the pro-marijuana group NORML in Omaha, about the Nebraska Legislature’s position. “I have no idea what’s going on down in Lincoln.”

Since 2010, legislators have rejected medical marijuana bills three times, even measures that allowed only low levels of the drug’s active ingredient and restricted it to creams and oils with a ban on smoking.

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