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(Neb)-Medical Marijuana Backers Pack Legislative Hearing

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/16/2017 10:32 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Medical marijuana advocates packed two rooms at the Capitol in Lincoln yesterday for a Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill allowing people with diseases including cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy to use the substance.
 
     Proponents who testified included veterans injured in Iraq, parents of children who suffer from seizures, and a retired physician with multiple sclerosis.

      All said marijuana is a more effective and less addictive alternative to opioid painkillers, with many also saying they benefited from medical marijuana when visiting states that have legalized it.
 
     The Nebraska State Patrol, Attorney General's office and Nebraska Sheriffs Association oppose the measure. Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner testified that legalizing medical marijuana is the first step to allowing recreational marijuana.

     At a Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, Senator John Murante of Gretna urged the committee to look seriously at replacing Nebraska's election equipment, at a cost of $20-to- $30 million dollars, because the current equipment is on pace to fail and inaction is not an option.

      Murante's comments drew support from Secretary of State John Gale, the man in charge of election, who urged lawmakers to have the state cover the cost rather than counties. Gale said many counties can't afford the technology and would have to revert to hand-counting ballots.

       Senators also presented bills at the hearing that would allow counties to conduct vote-by-mail elections and legalize optical scanners, but most are unlikely to advance this year.

       On a related subject, Senator Murante called on the Trump administration to overturn a ruling that he said could lead to federal intervention in state election systems...saying the decision to label state voting systems as critical infrastructure could violate state sovereignty and increase security risks.

       Murante noted that the U.S. Constitution grants states the authority to conduct elections, and he called the nation's decentralized election system a security benefit because voting information isn't all stored in one place.

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says designating the voting systems as critical infrastructure allows states to get prioritized federal assistance to manage risks and doesn't involve any kind of federal intrusion or takeover.


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