As in many of the more conservative states in the U.S., movement toward reforming Nebraska medical marijuana laws has been painstakingly slow. Unfortunately, as of this writing, medical cannabis is not available to help thousands of people find relief from their discomfort. They must instead turn to dangerous medications that not only have severe side effects but can, in some instances, even pose the risk of addiction or a potentially fatal overdose.
The Nebraska state legislature convened in January 2017, but the makeup of the Senate was viewed as unfriendly to potential reform of medical marijuana laws in the state. There were fewer Senate supporters of a medical marijuana bill than there were in 2016, when a bill came up a mere three votes short of moving to a final vote.
But advocates still plan on pressing forward and working with lawmakers to determine the best strategy. It is expected that, despite very likely opposition, certain legislators will once again introduce bills that will call for a compassionate medical marijuana policy.
While Nebraska marijuana laws make it illegal to possess cannabis in any amount, first-time offenders possessing small amounts — up to an ounce — are not arrested or jailed. Instead, they are considered to be in violation of civil law. As a result, they are subject to a $300 fine and possible enrollment in a drug education course. If someone is convicted of a second offense of possession up to an ounce, they are subject to up to five days in jail and a fine of $400. A third offense carries penalties of up to a week in jail and a fine of $500 under marijuana laws in Nebraska. Possession of paraphernalia is considered a civil infraction punishable by a fine of up to $100. Subsequent violations are punishable by a fine of between $200 and $500.
Anyone caught possessing more than an ounce but less than a pound of weed faces up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. However, if convicted of possessing more than a pound of marijuana, the offender is charged with a Class IV felony. This carries with it a maximum jail sentence of five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Under Nebraska marijuana laws, cultivation of cannabis is viewed in the same manner as sale or distribution of the plant. Anyone caught cultivating any amount is charged with a Class III felony. Punishments include a mandatory one-year jail sentence — though it can go up to 20 years — and a fine of up to $25,000. Any sale to a minor that takes place between 100-1,000 feet of certain designated areas — or within 1,000 feet of a school — is considered a Class II felony. Punishment ranges from one to 50 years in jail.
Should LB 622 pass, Nebraska will adopt the Medical Cannabis Act, which will not only make medical marijuana available to patients with qualifying conditions but will also set up a process for manufacturers and dispensaries to register with the state.
Check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com, and we will provide updates on Nebraska medical marijuana laws as developments warrant. We hope one day patients in the state will have access to the medical cannabis they need to find the relief they seek.