The Nebraska Board of Pharmacy rejected a request to reclassify marijuana so that it could be used for medicinal purposes. The board decided Monday that it lacks the authority to reclassify marijuana as a drug that could be legally prescribed by physicians.
Any decision to reclassify marijuana so it can be prescribed for certain medical conditions is up to the federal Food and Drug Administration, State Pharmacy Board Chairman Richard Zarek said Wednesday. So the board declined to act on the matter, reports Paul Hammel of the Omaha World-Herald
“There’s nothing the Board of Pharmacy can do as long as it’s listed as a Schedule I drug and ineligible for dispensing,” Zarek said.
Schedule I drugs are prohibited by federal law and are seen as having a high potential for addiction and no accepted medical uses.
Medical marijuana advocates packed a hearing room
in Lincoln in July and told the Pharmacy Board that cannabis use has medical benefits, including relieving chronic pain, improving appetites of those in cancer treatment and helping sufferers of multiple sclerosis.
Former Senator Bob Kerry (D-Neb.) has advocated the use of medical marijuana to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Pharmacy Board voted 5-0 against reclassifying marijuana in its Monday meeting in Omaha.
The board probably does lack the legal authority to reclassify cannabis, said Ralph Smith, a Louisville, Neb., attorney who has lobbied for legalization in both Iowa and Nebraska. But Smith said he had hoped the board would recommend to the Legislature that marijuana be reclassified.
Smith said he had talked with state lawmakers about introducing a bill during the next session, which begins in January.
An initiative petition drive, to get the issue on the ballot for Nebraska voters in 2012, is also planned.
“It’s coming,” Smith said. “Medical cannabis will be in Nebraska. It’s just a matter of when and how many hours humans will suffer between now and then.”
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended in February that marijuana be legalized for medical use, but the issue then stalled in that state. Smith said, however, that he does expect a bill to be introduced in the Iowa Legislature in 2011.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia.