Will Medical Marijuana Be Legalized In Nebraska?
The discussion has begun about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Nebraska.
Three members of the State Board of Pharmacy will quiz their colleagues on the topic at the annual meeting May 22-25 of the National Boards of Pharmacy in Anaheim, Calif., reports Paul Hammel of World-Herald News Service.
The Nebraskans hope to learn more about the pros and cons of legalization and any problems that have arisen in the 14 states that now allow cannabis to be used medicinally.
“It’s probably an issue we’re going to have to address in the future,” said Board Chairman Rick Zarek, a Gothernburg, Neb., pharmacist, who said he had no personal opinion on the subject.
Nebraska legislators declared the issue dead in March, even after the state pharmacy board in neighboring Iowa voted unanimously to recommend that medical marijuana be permitted there.
A spokeswoman said the group plans to educate the board, and also hopes to launch an initiative petition drive in 2012 to get the medical marijuana issue on Nebraska’s ballot.
“It is one of the safest plants on Earth to use,” said spokeswoman Diana Wulf of Staplehurst.
Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, based in Chicago, said medical marijuana is among the top issues facing his members. According to Catizone, this is not only because proposals have been made in many states to legalize the herb for medical purposes, but also because there is so much disagreement on its medical usefulness.
The national pharmacy group held a two-day symposium on medical marijuana in December. No Nebraska board members attended, according to World-Herald News Service.
Catizone said the issue will almost certainly be raised again at the annual meeting next week, especially in view of developments like the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommendation.
“You kind of expect the Californias and Oregons… but when it hits the heartland like Iowa, that’s when it caught people’s attention,” Catizone said. “To get legs in Iowa was a big deal.”
The Iowa Legislature would still have to vote to legalize medical marijuana there. Only a “narrowly crafted” law — which, in the real word, means one that would exclude many patients who actually need cannabis — would be considered in Iowa, according to conventional wisdom.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has repeatedly expressed his opposition to medical marijuana.
A bill to legalize medical marijuana has never been introduced in the Nebraska Legislature, although several years ago the lawmakers considered legalizing industrial hemp farming.
Wulf, however, plans to continue with her efforts.
“Our intention is by the first of next year to educate Nebraska,” she said. “Marijuana is more than just getting high.”