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“There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” Pete Ricketts says.

Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts has cautioned communities throughout his state that having medical marijuana on the ballot for the upcoming election in November could be dangerous.

“We have seen the effect in other states,” Ricketts said Monday, according to a news conference video posted by KETV. “When they do this, people show up to work stoned, and that puts them at greater risk for accidents on the job,” the governor said.

A new analysis by Quest Diagnostics indicates positive workplace tests for all drugs climbed to a 16-year high in 2019. “In addition to overall increases in workforce drug positives, specific regions of the United States, particularly the Midwest, experienced dramatic increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine as well as marijuana,” notes a company statement.

“There is no question that before COVID-19, rates of workplace drug positivity were trending in the wrong direction,” Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics, says in the statement. “The enormous strain caused by COVID-19 may prove to be an accelerant on this disturbing trend,” Sample added.

If medical cannabis is on the ballot and people vote “yes”, it will be about more than unsafe workplaces, Ricketts argued. Children could be at risk as well, he said.

“We know that this has a huge impact on children,” Ricketts charged. Cognitive development is “impacted when they have access to marijuana. And we know that in states that have legalized it that those rates go up,” the governor claimed.


“Current evidence does not suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure alone is associated with clinically significant cognitive functioning impairments.” / Photo: wildpixel / iStock / Getty Images Plus

/ Photo: wildpixel / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A recent review of studies from the last three decade suggests cannabis isn’t as detrimental to a child’s cognitive development in pregnant mothers as was previously thought. “Current evidence does not suggest that prenatal cannabis exposure alone is associated with clinically significant cognitive functioning impairments,” researchers noted, adding that conclusions drawn from individual studies sometimes extend far beyond the actual data.

The governor’s comments seem out of step with the recent decision to move forward with putting medical marijuana on the ballot after enough valid signatures were collected to do so.

At least 122,325 valid signatures were required to add the petition question to the 2020 general election ballot, notes a statement from Nebraska’s Secretary of State Bob Evnen. Signatures of more than five percent of registered voters were collected in 48 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.


Evnen said he anticipates a review of his decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court.. / Photo: marchmeena29 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

/ Photo: marchmeena29 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Evnen said that sponsors and other interested parties have been notified that wording of the ballot initiative was legally sufficient, a review undertaken after he received “a request to withhold the initiative from ballot based on a claim of legal insufficiency,” the statement notes.

Evnen said he anticipates a review of his decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court. “Ultimately, the Supreme Court will decide whether I am correct, and I will comply with the decision of the court,” he said.

“We’ll see what the outcome of the lawsuits are,” Ricketts noted Monday, encouraging Nebraskans to have a closer look at the ballot question should it move forward.

“There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” he argued during the press conference. “This is not a benign thing. This is a dangerous thing.”

 

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