Gov. Ricketts says he’s never smoked marijuana, sees danger in using it as medicine – Omaha World-Herald

WAHOO, Neb. — Gov. Pete Ricketts says he’s never smoked marijuana despite having friends in college who did, and he sees danger in legalizing its use as medicine.

“I never had the desire to smoke marijuana. I never thought it was the cool thing to do,” Ricketts said.

The 54-year-old governor, a married father of three who attended college in Chicago, has issued statements in opposition to a legislative bill that would legalize cannabis for medical uses.

When asked about his views last week after a town hall meeting in Wahoo, Ricketts said he’s looked at the data, and sees concerns, particularly in the lack of medical evidence that medicinal marijuana works.

“There’s no major medical organization that says smoking marijuana is any way to deliver (health) benefits,” he said.

Cannabis, Ricketts said, should go through the same approval process at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as other medications. Without FDA approval, he said, how do you know if there are risks and side effects and, if it works, what dosage works best? Ricketts added that the FDA has approved some synthetic forms of cannabis to treat seizures and other maladies.

“And how many years have we been encouraging people not to smoke in general?” he added. “If you smoke marijuana, you get all those same bad compounds.”

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But the two main sponsors of Legislative Bill 110 said that they don’t see the harm in allowing the use of marijuana as medicine, under supervision by a physician, and that they hear daily from Nebraskans who feel the benefits.

State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, who is a long-distance runner, said she used CBD oil — which is legal in Colorado — after hiking a 14,000-foot peak there and had “zero soreness” because of it.

“Why should someone suffering from epilepsy wait any longer for legal access to a medicine that can decrease or eliminate their seizures?” she asked. “Why would we treat that person as a criminal?”

Wishart, who is also pushing an initiative to put the issue on the 2020 ballot if LB 110 isn’t passed, said that “research and access” should be advanced concurrently. Meanwhile, Nebraskans should be allowed to safely and legally treat their symptoms under supervision of a doctor, she said.

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, another principal in the bill and initiative drive, said he sees some hypocrisy in the governor’s stance — he wants FDA approval for medical marijuana, but when it came to obtaining lethal injection drugs for an execution, the state was willing to defy some FDA rules.

When asked if he’d had personal experience with marijuana, the 33-year-old senator said: “I would never support legislation that I personally know nothing about.”

Alcohol, Morfeld said, is more dangerous in his opinion.


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