Should Nebraska voters approve a measure legalizing medical marijuana this year, be prepared for workers in the Cornhusker State to clock in before they’ve come down.
That was the warning issued Monday by the state’s Republican governor, Pete Ricketts. At a press conference, Ricketts dismissed the legitimacy of cannabis as a medical treatment, and warned that legalizing it—something more than 30 other states have already done—could have dire consequences for Nebraska.
“There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” Ricketts, currently serving his second term as governor, said at the press conference. “This is not something that should be prescribed by a doctor. It’s not something we distribute through a pharmacy, right? These are dispensaries that will be in your communities, and we have seen the effect in other states when they do this, people show up to work stoned, and that puts him at greater risk for accidents on the job.”
Plenty in the medical community—not to mention scores of patients suffering from cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions—would strongly disagree with Ricketts’ assessment.
“We know that this has a huge impact on children, their development, you know, their cognitive development, their developing in the brain is impacted when they have access to marijuana,” the governor continued. “We know that in states that have legalized it that those rates go up. So this is not a benign thing. This is a dangerous thing.”
The Battle For Medical Marijuana In Nebraska
The status of the medical marijuana initiative remains shrouded in uncertainty, though backers of the proposal received a boost on Friday, after Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen approved it for this November’s ballot.
“After careful review by our counties, I can confirm that the number and distribution of valid signatures submitted on the petitions meet the statutory requirements for placement of the initiative on the November general election ballot,” Evnen said, as quoted by local outlet KVRN.
But the measure is facing a legal challenge from opponents to medical marijuana like Mark Fahleson, a former chairman for the Nebraska Republican Party. In a letter sent to Evnen last week, Fahleson and a group of others requested “that [Evnen] withhold this legally insufficient measure from the ballot.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Fahleson “argued that the ballot measure poses two separate questions: whether residents should have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes, and whether private companies should be allowed to grow and sell it.”
According to KVRN, Evnen “anticipates that his decision approving ballot language for the medical marijuana initiative will be reviewed by the Nebraska Supreme Court.”
Proponents for the measure, like Democratic state Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, a co-chair of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said that they are prepared to fight to ensure it makes it on the ballot in November.
“On the same day we were told that we had enough signatures and qualified Medical Marijuana to be on the ballot we received a letter challenging the constitutionality of our initiative. Our language is drafted based on prior Supreme Court precedent and is constitutional,” Morfeld said on Twitter last week. “Over 190,000 Nebraskans exercised their constitutional right to put medical marijuana on the ballot and we will do everything to protect their right to be heard!”