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‘Prohibition Doesn’t Work’: Nebraska Senators Propose Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) — Marijuana was the main topic on Capitol Hill Thursday, with a hearing on two bills that would legalize recreational use and sale in Nebraska.

LB 22, by Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha, would decriminalize drug use and possession.

LB 634, by Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha, would allow the sale of cannabis to anyone over the age of 21.

“The federal government continues to cling, as it does today, to a policy that has its roots in racism, xenophobia, and whose primary effect has been to blight the lives of many generations of people,” McKinney said.

LB 634 would also focus on helping people of color and low-income individuals, who McKinney says are disproportionately targeted for marijuana possession by law enforcement.

Witnesses said Nebraskans had wanted these bills for years.

“Polls consistently show that people in the state want cannabis to be legal in some form,” said Spike Eickholt of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska. “You might not like the shapes of these bills, but ultimately, what might happen is that voters will just pass something you really don’t like, and then you’ll be stuck with it.”

SEE ALSO: Advocates tell Nebraska lawmakers marijuana is a safe medical option, not ‘devil’s lettuce’

One concern raised by the opposition was how the black market contributes to marijuana sales.

“The black market is alive and well in states that have legal marijuana and in states that have illegal marijuana,” said Colonel John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska state patrol. “I believe one of the witnesses suggested that it is easy to access and affordable. It is true.”

Bolduc said that if the bills are passed, the black market will harm legitimate businesses.

Heartland Family Service’s Lorelle Mueting said legalization would put the safety of everyone in the state at risk.

“As people use it more, we will inevitably see more impairment issues affecting more than just the person using it,” Mueting said. “Marijuana is a psychoactive substance, which means it causes a high, and when under the influence of THC, a person lacks the ability to make good decisions.”

Under the legislation, the drug would be taxed, which proponents say could bring millions in revenue to the state.

“Prohibitionists need to understand that Prohibition doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, and never will work,” said Jerry Moler.

The Judiciary Commission has only heard testimony on the bills, but could vote on them as early as next week.

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