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A state senator challenged Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson Thursday on comments he made the day before on a radio talk show. 

Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld sent a letter to Peterson after he appeared on Omaha radio station KFAB's Scott Voorhees show, saying if Peterson wanted to know his and Sen. Anna Wishart's motives for leading a constitutional amendment on medical marijuana and introducing a bill, he should have asked them. 

Morfeld said Peterson alluded to the senators' support of legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska being motivated by a billion-dollar marijuana industry. 

"In the future, if you are curious as to my motives," he told Peterson in the letter, "instead of pondering them on the radio, I would encourage you to call my cellphone, send me a text message, message me on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or email, drop by my office or arrange time for coffee — a courtesy that I have always extended to you, despite our differences from time to time." 

He also invited Peterson to his home or office to introduce him to his motivation: Veterans who suffer from PTSD, mothers of children with life-threatening daily seizures, cancer patients with chronic pain and loss of appetite, and Nebraskans addicted to opioids or family members who lost loved ones because of opioid addiction. 

"(They are) all people your positions and policies would have left suffering or in prison," he said.

Morfeld said he looked forward to finding a time for Peterson to meet with him and the people he described. 

"I will clear my schedule," he said. 

On the talk show, Peterson said the issue is far more complicated than the notion that 33 states have legalized medical marijuana and 11 states have legalized the recreational form of the drug, so it can't be stopped. 

"I'm thinking, as public policymakers we have to be far more responsible than that type of simplistic analysis," he said. 

A hearing for a bill (LB110) introduced by Wishart of Lincoln to legalize medical cannabis is scheduled for the afternoon of Jan. 25 in front of the Judiciary Committee. 

Peterson said he agreed with Voorhees that legalization of medical cannabis was one step closer to getting what people really want — legalization of recreational marijuana. 

"The marijuana industry, I call them the impairment industry because the whole purpose of the product is to impair," he said. "It's an industry that tries to maximize impairment. … There's big money to be made here." 

Peterson asked what's driving these senators to push the bills and the initiative petitions. 

"Well, we know it's coming from an industry that can make billions, is making billions, and wants to sweep the country with access to some very high-potency marijuana," he said. 

Peterson said he knows firsthand of the dangers of the drug because he has a family member who started using the drug as a junior in high school. Now he is 34, has paranoid schizophrenia and lives in his parents' basement.

A doctor said the man may have had a medical predisposition to the mental health disorder and his use of the drug pushed him over the edge, Peterson said. 

"It's ludicrous to me that we somehow give legitimacy to this business," he said.  

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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