As a state Senator I am often faced with interesting and complex issues that I hadn’t spent much time thinking about prior to being asked to look at these policy issues while serving in office. One of those issues we have heard a lot about in recent years is the issue of medical marijuana. As the country grapples with the legalization of this substance that has been around for years, in Nebraska we are looking at two pieces of legislation that deal with the topic. These two bills are Senator Wishart’s LB 622, which would allow the legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska, and Senator Ebke’s LB 167, which reschedules cannabidiol in a drug product approved by the FDA into Schedule V of the Nebraska Controlled Substances Act.
Under Senator Ebke’s legislation, upon FDA approval, rescheduling by the DEA will take place and take care of federal law, but Epidiolex (a drug currently in phase 3 of FDA testing) would be rescheduled in each state, including Nebraska. This bill allows the legislature to proactively reschedule cannbidiol in an FDA approved product, ensuring Epidiolex will be available to patients in Nebraska as soon as federal approval and rescheduling is complete. I was glad to see Ebke introduce this legislation, as I believe it’s a way for people to access the drug, getting the help they need while going through proper and regulated channels. I believe it is an appropriate way for Nebraska to handle this issue through a common sense approach.
While LB 622 was brought with similar intentions of allowing Nebraska citizens who need this drug for appropriate treatment an avenue to access it, I feel the legislation is too broad. Additionally, I have concerns about the creation of the new program to administer the drug, which I fear could cost additional money that the state does not have at this time. I very much empathize with citizens who suffer from medical conditions that respond positively to cannabidiol, but believe we need to make sure we are putting the proper regulations in place when they access this substance. I believe LB 167 works within the current framework while allowing those suffering from certain medical conditions that ability to access the substance they need. I am hopeful the process will move forward quickly so those who need this substance have the ability to access it legally in Nebraska in the near future.
Another piece of legislation I support is LB 645 introduced by Senator Pansing-Brooks, which would add a definition of dyslexia to Nebraska statute, designating it as a specific learning disability. While this law may seem simple in nature, I believe it is important, as once dyslexia is identified as a specific learning disability, children with this disability will able to access the resources available through school based learning disability programs in Nebraska.
Finally, one of the more interesting pieces of legislation I learned about this year, and one I will be supporting, is LB 506, brought by Senator Albrecht. Under this legislation, a physician who diagnoses an unborn child as having a lethal fetal anomaly would provide the family with information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services pertaining to perinatal hospice care, including access to a list of perinatal hospice programs available in Nebraska and nationally. It is my hope that these resources would provide an avenue for families facing this challenging process to gain support from professionals as they go through their experience. Over the years I have known many families who have faced sad news about their children prior to them being brought into the world. Whether grieving a child’s death while the child is in the womb or in the world, these resources should be made available to families and I am very supportive of this occurring.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. David and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.