Nebraska lawmakers are about to consider the state’s first medicinal marijuana bill.
While opponents argue that scientific data is lacking, those in the scientific and medical communities – including the U.S. Attorney General – argue in turn that the use of marijuana for medical treatment shows legitimate promise that needs further research. Meaning, that while opponents are technically “correct” in their assertion that data is lacking, it is not the fault in the data itself but in the decades of stigmatization around marijuana that impeded legitimate medical research, which is still in its relative infancy.
Legislative Bill 643, called the Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, is scheduled for a March 6 hearing before the Judiciary Committee.
The Kearney Hub, a Nebraska-based newspaper, points out that the bill has a long, hard road to fight and the path isn’t going to be an easy one: among the bill’s opponents are the Nebraska Medical Association, Governor Pete Ricketts, and Attorney General Doug Peterson. The state has also partnered with Oklahoma to sue Colorado to overturn their legalization of recreational marijuana use.
But, says the Hub, despite claims of there being a lack of sufficient evidence to support the clams of marijuana’s therapeutic uses, there are still those who cite a favorable outlook on its potential based on testimonies and clinical studies and advocate for further research.
For those who fret over the potentials of abuse in medical marijuana use, there are indeed non-inebriating substances found in marijuana that are shown to be just as effective in medical treatment. Cannabidiol, an active cannabinoid compound found in marijuana, has a wider scope of medical applications than the more popularly known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and does not produce the same intoxicating effects. Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, who co-directs drug policy research for the RAND Corp., is quoted in the Hub saying, “It’s the Tylenol version of marijuana, and for some conditions, that’s all you need.”
Even still, cannabidiol-based pharmacology is years away from getting an FDA-approved prescription to the market, and those suffering from debilitating neuropathic pain and other ailments effectively treated by marijuana don’t want to wait the decade or more that it can take for a drug treatment to go through clinical trials. Medicinal marijuana still poses the easiest and most immediate solution.
In the case of Ashley Taillard, an Air Force veteran with severe nerve damage from an injury she sustained during her service, she had internalized the stigmatization of marijuana so much she had to set aside her long-held beliefs that drugs of all kinds are bad and wrong to consider marijuana as an alternative treatment for her constant pain she is otherwise unable to control through a bevy of prescriptions and epidurals. A desperate trip to Colorado ended with the mother of four in tears of relief. But because she and her husband don’t want to break the law, they did not bring any marijuana back from Colorado with them, and are instead relying on Nebraska lawmakers to take the proactive lead. For her sake, let’s hope they do.