June 15, 2024

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Families urge support for bill to legalize medical cannabis

3 min read

PAPILLION – Nicole Hochstein’s 11-year-old son is electrically shocked every 30 seconds. Four parts of his brain were removed. And every time he has a seizure, he becomes less of himself.

LB474 was introduced last week by Senator Anna Wishart of Lancaster County (District 27) to legalize what Hochstein calls a medical solution to his epilepsy: cannabis.

She said she was originally inspired by a young girl with epilepsy, and studies have shown how cannabis can help.

While 70% of Nebraska voters support medical cannabis, LB474 is facing significant backlash from Lincoln politicians, according to a 2017 study.

“If you legalize marijuana, you will kill your children,” Governor Pete Ricketts said last week.

Hochstein said this stance of equating LB474 with allowing street drugs is wrong.

“I would love it if someone reads the side effects of the drugs they are already taking,” she said, listing suicidal tendencies among physical ailments. Her son Jayen is even taking medication for the side effects of the drugs prescribed for him, she said.

“The side effects of cannabis are all positive,” said Hochstein.

Senator Wishart noted that the bill does not legalize recreational cannabis. It also doesn’t allow teenagers to access it. Quoting the American Medical Journal, she said legalized medical cannabis does not increase teenage use.

“The FDA has legalized some form of cannabis,” said Wishart, “because it was shown to be an effective treatment.” […] In all honesty, the people in the state are already self-medicating. It would be better if they had a safe and regulated way to talk to their doctors about it, “Wishart said.

She went on to say that not only could it help these families, but it could also boost Nebraska’s economy.

“It will be an opportunity for farmers to grow a new product, start new businesses and employ fewer workers. People can work more because they are in less pain,” she said.

Wishart expects the proposal to ultimately go through a popular election initiative rather than LB474. Why? Mostly because she is confident that Governor Ricketts would veto if it overcomes this next step.

“There is no such thing as medicinal cannabis […] It affects the development of a child’s brain, “Ricketts stated in August 2020.

Hochstein argued the opposite; that your son will lose more of his cognitive abilities the longer he goes without medicinal cannabis.

“Every seizure is a different possibility for [Sudden Epileptic Death Syndrome] and causes more brain damage. He’s running out of time and options, “she said.

Dr. Lisa Perrin of Columbus Community Hospital said cannabis could be a solution but it needs to be regulated.

“In my professional opinion, there are medical benefits to cannabis in certain situations, but it is also still a drug like methamphetamine and should be monitored […] It shouldn’t be on anyone’s shelves, “Perrin said.

Hochstein tried every other type of drug; Based on living in states where it was legal, she knows that cannabis would relieve his symptoms. Hochstein doesn’t want to have to leave Nebraska again.

“I believe in Nebraska,” she said.