Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts Says Cannabis Kills Kids. Really?

Nebraskan Gov. Pete Ricketts: "I urge Nebraskans, please get educated on this, don’t legalize marijuana in the state of Nebraska." (Image via Freedom Leaf)

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts' latest kooky cannabis comments should come as no surprise. He's aggressively opposed efforts to legalize medical marijuana in his state for several years.

At the State Capitol in Lincoln on March 10, Ricketts spoke against LB 474, the Adopt the Medicinal Cannabis Act. He was introduced by Dr. John Kuehn, co-chair of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Nebraska.

Last September, the Nebraska Supreme Court blocked the measure from being on the ballot because of a technicality.


Gov. Ricketts' Reefer Madness Speech in Its Entirety

"The idea that we want to go around the way we normally approve drugs is dangerous. And there's three things you need to know about this. See, normally when we take a drug and make sure that it's safe and effective for what ailments, for what doses, for what side effects, it goes through the Food and Drug Adminstration, right? You can take a look at the vaccines that have gone through that process to be able to fight the pandemic, and that process can be done in a short period of time.

"But what proponents of legalizing marijuana want to do, they want to go around this process. The three things you need to know about this is Big Pot, Big Marijuana is a big industry. These are companies that are often owned by tobacco companies, like Altria or Imperial Brands. So this is a big industry that's trying not to be regulated. They're trying to go around the regulatory process. And that's going to put people at risk, when you go around regulations that are designed for the health and safety of our society.

"The second thing you have to know is that experts have said that marijuana is dangerous, right? It's a Schedule I drug, according to the federal government, the same category as things like LSD, heroin, Ecstasy. If you look at organizations like the American Medical Association or the American Psychiatric Association, they say marijuana is dangerous and it can cause psychiatric problems like schizophrenia and so forth. The National Academy of Medicine advises the federal government the same thing, that this is a dangerous drug. [Note: This claim is aguable.]

Gov. Pete Ricketts: "If you legalize marijuana, you're gonna kill your kids. That's what the data shows from around the country."

"And the third thing is we can already see the dangers of this on other states that have legalized marijuana. We can look at states like Colorado or California and see the increase in the number of people who are being impacted by this. Look at, for example, Colorado. Survey there: eighth graders have used six and a half percent of this within the last month or so. Eleven and a half percent have used it over the course of a year. And as you get older, high schoolers, 12th graders - it goes to 7% of 12th graders use marijuana or a THC derivative daily in Colorado. And over 21% on a monthly basis. {Note: This information is not confirmed.]

"That actually has a big impact on peoples' cognitive ability. It changes the grey matter in their brain, damages their ability to be able to develop their cognitive abilities - to be able to think and do well in school. [Note: This claim is debunked here.] This is something that is harming our young people. And it continues on through the workforce. If you look at states like Oregon, Nevada and Colorado, who have legalized marijuana, you see that use goes up dramatically in the workforce by numbers like 63% in Oregon, 55% in Nevada and 47% in Colorado. [Note: These statistics are not confirmed.]

"And ultimately this has a huge human toll. People like Levy Pongi, who ingested a marijuana cookie and jumped off a balcony and killed himself. Mark Fuller, 23 years old, who had no history of mental illness, ingested high levels of THC and committed suicide. [Note: We are not able to verify this claim or person.] I recently was made aware of a family that's struggling with the expoure to marijuana from other family members and a seven-year-old testing positive for THC - they gave her THC.

"It's a dangerous drug that will impact our kids. If you legalize marijuana, you're gonna kill your kids. That's what the data shows from around the country. And that's why it's dangerous to go around the established process we have to determine whether our drugs are safe and effective while legalizing marijuana and going around the regulatory process to keep people safe. It's dangerous and it's gonna harm our kids.

"So I urge Nebraskans, please get educated on this, reach out to your state Senator, tell 'em don't go around the regulatory process, don't go around the way we have to keep safe, don't legalize marijuana in the state of Nebraska."

Watch the press conference here.


About Gov. Ricketts

Ricketts' father founded the brokerage company TD Ameritrade, where Pete Ricketts worked from 1993-2016. The now two-term Republican governor from Nebraska City was elected in 2014. He's also a part-owner of the Chicago Cubs with other family members. Ricketts, 56, supports former President Trump.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.