LINCOLN, Neb. (Feb. 1, 2016) – A Nebraska bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively thwarting the deplorable federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by Sen. Anna Wishart (N-Lincoln) and 10 co-sponsors, LB622 would allow any “Nebraska resident who has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a participating health care practitioner” to access marijuana for the purposes of treating their ailments.
Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of 20 ailments listed in LB622.
Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under LB622, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in LB622, would be permitted to operate provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.
“There are people desperate and in need,” Sen. Wishart said to the Omaha World-Herald. “I can guarantee you they are in every single senator’s district.”
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as LB622 and its House counterparts remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, South Carolina sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Nebraska could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and blocking it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
LB622 was referred to the Judiciary Committee. The committee must approve the bill before it can receive a full Senate vote.