The program approved by the Senate would allow Iowans who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. The bill also requires the state to register in-state businesses to produce and distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. This is a huge step forward, but for Iowa patients to receive the protections they deserve, the bill must first survive the House and then the governor.
Iowa Senate Could Vote on Medical Marijuana Any Day
After securing approval from the Iowa Senate Ways and Means Committee, the Medical Cannabis Act is primed for a floor vote by the full Senate. This vote could happen any day now, so it’s important for Iowa residents to email your Senator TODAY and ask her or him to vote “yes” on the Medical Cannabis Act when it comes to the floor.
The Medical Cannabis Act, or S.F. 484, makes significant improvements to the ineffective CBD-only law that was enacted last year in an effort to bring relief to individuals suffering from intractable epilepsy. That law has failed to help even the small subset of potential medical cannabis patients that it was specifically intended to help, making passage of the Medical Cannabis Act necessary.
Should the Medical Cannabis Act become law, individuals suffering from cancer, PTSD, intractable epilepsy, MS, and other debilitating conditions will be able to legally use and obtain their medicine within Iowa’s borders — but it must pass the Senate first.
Iowa Board of Pharmacy Delays Decision on the Reclassification of Medical Marijuana
After some members expressed reservations, the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided on Wednesday to delay its decision on marijuana’s drug classification until January.
A board subcommittee initially recommended that the entire board consider reclassifying the substance from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug. The recommendation was based on marijuana’s use for medical purposes, bolstered by a new law in Iowa that made the use of CBD oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant, legal for the treatment of children with epilepsy.
An Iowa Pharmacy Board member and pharmacist from Monona, Edward Maier, read the subcommittee’s recommendation:
“While the board believes that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, in 2014 the Iowa General Assembly passed the Medical Cannabinoid Act. The act permits the use of cannanbidiol for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. The passage of this act is an affirmative recognition by the Iowa General Assembly that there is a medical use for marijuana. Continued placement for marijuana in Schedule I is not consistent with that act,” Maier said, reading directly from the recommendation.
Maier also emphasized that even if the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II substance, the decision would not necessarily mean the de facto implementation of a medical marijuana law in Iowa. The move would also necessitate legislative and regulatory action.
In the end, however, the entire board voted unanimously to delay the decision until they are scheduled to meet again the first week of January.
Iowa Board of Pharmacy to Consider the Reclassification of Medical Marijuana
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is considering renewing its recommendation that the state reclassify marijuana in a way that would make it easier to use the substance legally for medical purposes, following a hearing in the state’s capital yesterday where patients, medical professionals, and drug-abuse prevention specialists testified about whether Iowa should relax its strict ban on the use of medical marijuana.
“We’re in a bit of a predicament,” board Chairman Edward Maier told several dozen people who gathered for the Des Moines hearing, noting that Iowa law currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
A similar proposal failed to gain traction in 2009 when the board recommended that state legislators reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would make the substance legal with a physician’s recommendation.
Edward Hertko, a retired Des Moines physician and longtime proponent for making marijuana legal, said opponents have falsely characterized marijuana as addictive and as a gateway to harder drugs.
“Its hazards pale when compared with alcohol and tobacco,” he told the pharmacy board. “In fact, marijuana is less deadly than sugar, which causes thousands of deaths each year from obesity and diabetes,” he said.
In addition, Lori Tassin, a cancer patient also from Des Moines, said she believes the substance can shrink tumors and provide other medical benefits.
“It should be my choice,” she told the board. “It should be between my doctor and me.”
The entire Iowa Board of Pharmacy will further discuss the issue Wednesday. Moreover, Maier, a Mapleton pharmacist, noted that the board does not have the authority to make medical marijuana legal. However, he did state that the board could advise Iowa state legislators on the issue.
Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Law Makes the Substance Legal to Possess but Impossible to Obtain
As reported by Iowa Watchdog, in May, Governor Terry Branstad signed into law the Medical Cannabidiol Act. The law allows for residents of Iowa to possess small amounts of cannabidiol if a neurologist certifies that the non-psychoactive oil derived from marijuana plants is necessary for the treatment of a child with intractable epilepsy.
On Tuesday, the Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Iowa State Legislature gave final approval to the procedures by which the Iowa Department of Public Health will address the new law.
Beginning on January 30, 2015, after filing the appropriate paperwork and being approved by IDPH, a parent or primary caregiver of a child diagnosed with epilepsy will be able to receive a specific form of identification that will allow them to possess up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.
They will not, however, be able to obtain the actual oil. In fact, cannabidiol will remain illegal to produce or sell in the state of Iowa. Moreover, in Colorado and Oregon, the states where the oil is legal, it is illegal to sell to nonresidents. Therefore, even if an approved resident from Iowa were able to buy the oil in one of the states where it is legal, transporting the substance across state lines remains a federal crime.
“That’s the reality of the situation,” Deborah Thompson, policy advisor for IDPH, told Iowa Watchdog. “There are still some very fundamental barriers to parents getting the oil.”
According to state Rep. Rob Taylor, R-West Des Moines:
“It was a very limited bill. All it did was give citizens of Iowa who possess and are registered with the state safe harbor under Iowa state law. Meaning we wouldn’t prosecute them if they have cannabidiol,” Taylor said.
When asked what purpose it served to create an approval process of a substance that Iowans will not be allowed to legally obtain, Taylor stated, “It’s one more tool in their toolbox for families dealing with a very, very disturbing disorder.”
Iowa Decriminalization Bill Introduced
Iowa Rep. Bruce Hunter has introduced legislation that would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. Under current law, those found with under 42.5 grams of marijuana can be arrested and face both heavy criminal fines and jail time. HF 2313 would replace these penalties with the issuance of a simple misdemeanor citation of $300. There would be no arrest and no threat of jail time.
Seventeen states have removed the threat of jail time for the possession of modest amounts of marijuana. Many of these states, including Minnesota, made these changes as far back as the 1970’s. In fact, just yesterday, Richard Bonnie – former director of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse and policy advisor to the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations – submitted testimony in support of a similar proposal in Maryland.
If you are an Iowa resident, please ask your state representative and senator to support this noncontroversial bill.
Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Iowa
Earlier this week, lawmakers in Des Moines once again introduced the Medical Cannabis Act for consideration. Unfortunately, the legislation will die for the year if it is not reported out of the Senate Human Resources Committee by the end of the week. If you live in Iowa, please email the committee members today and ask them to hold a hearing on this bill.
If passed, the Medical Cannabis Act will protect Iowans with serious and debilitating medical conditions from arrest or prosecution for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The legislation also requires the department of public health to develop rules governing the distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Twenty states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books; it’s about time Iowa does the same.
Quad-City Times Focuses on Patients In Need
Over the weekend, the Quad-Cities Times ran a feature on the “Faces of medical marijuana in Iowa.” The article shined a compassionate light on the daily struggles that many Iowans endure and their frustration at not being able to use marijuana legally, under their physicians’ recommendations. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., protect patients from criminal penalties for using medical marijuana; it’s time Iowa does, too.
There are individuals and families across the Hawkeye state whose lives would be improved greatly if medical marijuana were a legal option in Iowa. Your friends, family members, and neighbors shouldn’t have to move to a more compassionate state in order to find relief.
Illinois recently passed a medical marijuana law and Minnesota is seriously considering doing the same. A 2010 Seltzer & Co. poll found that nearly two thirds of Iowans support the passage of a medical marijuana program. If you live in Iowa please ask your state senator and representative to support compassionate access.
MPP’s Worst State Legislators of 2013
MPP released a video last week listing the country’s “Worst State Legislators of 2013″ on marijuana policy issues. The seven state representatives and one state senator were selected based on their legislative efforts to maintain or expand marijuana prohibition policies, as well as statements they made, during the 2013 legislative sessions. Watch the video countdown below.
The Huffington Post reports:
The video counts down the MPP’s top eight marijuana policy offenders, alongside some direct quotes that are questionable, to say the least.
Take, for instance, Rep. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), who called bongs and pipes “utensils of death;” Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d’Alene) who called medical marijuana a “farcical predatory scheme;” and Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) — whose home state of Montana has been battling a crippling meth epidemic — who called marijuana a “poison” and “the most dangerous drug there is.”
The list also garnered some local media attention in Colorado, where the #1 worst legislator of 2013, Sen. John Morse (D), is facing a highly talked-about recall election, and in Iowa, where the #7 worst legislator, Rep. Clel Baudler (R), bragged about being listed.
Truth Separates Paul and Gingrich After Iowa Caucus
Ron Paul may have achieved something of a victory by coming in third in the Iowa caucus yesterday, which is something few political wonks could have imagined a couple of months ago. Still, something should be said for the fact that he maintained his firm stance against the drug war after being narrowly beaten by candidates who are absolutely against marijuana reform.
In an early morning interview, Paul renewed his call to end federal interference in state marijuana laws and repeatedly called the drug war a failure. He even went so far as to call it a worse failure than alcohol prohibition! And according to Paul, his performance at the Iowa caucus proves that many Americans agree with him and are fed up.
Here’s the video, courtesy of Huffington Post.
And then we have Newt Gingrich. Earlier today at a press conference in New Hampshire, an SSDP member asked the candidate how he felt about states’ rights and how the Founding Fathers would have felt about growing marijuana. Read the rest of this entry »