Advocates, Nebraska AG Clash Over Constitutionality of Medical Marijuana

The Cornhusker State has proven inhospitable to cannabis reform, but advocates aren’t ready to concede defeat just yet.

On Monday, the group Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws called out state Attorney General Doug Peterson, who last week issued an emphatic rebuke of a proposal to legalize medical marijuana there.

In a legal opinion released last Thursday, Peterson, a Republican who has held the office since 2015, said that a medical cannabis bill in the last legislative session would be unconstitutional, citing the 2005 Supreme Court case of Gonzales v. Raich that established “that state-level marijuana schemes…are preempted by the [Controlled Substances Act],” a federal law that prohibits the sale and cultivation of marijuana.

The bill, known as the Medical Cannabis Act, was stymied in the legislature this spring amid a filibuster.

“In sum, we conclude that the MCA, by creating a state regulatory scheme that would affirmatively facilitate the cultivation, processing, wholesale distribution, and retail sale of federal contraband on an industrial scale, would frustrate and conflict with the purpose and intent of the [Controlled Substances Act],” Peterson wrote. “Accordingly, we conclude that the MCA would be preempted by the CSA and would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”

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