On Saturday, December 1, Iowa’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened to the public. MedPharm opened in Windsor and will sell low-THC oil to qualifying patients. Unfortunately, MedPharm may only sell medical marijuana oil, and the oil may not contain more than three percent THC.
While this reform is an important victory for some patients, most seriously ill Iowans will be left behind. Many patients find greater amounts of THC are crucial to the relief they need from their medical conditions, and this severely limited program does not go far enough.
Iowa patients deserve better. Please email your lawmakers and ask them to support a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
Additionally, the board voted to recommend that the state add autism to the list of qualifying conditions, but rejected expanding the program to add ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and ganglioglioma.
Unfortunately, Iowa’s low-THC approach leaves behind thousands of patients who could benefit from medical marijuana.
Check out our full summary of Iowa’ low-THC program here. Five dispensaries across the state will be open to registered patients on December 1. You can also find a wealth of information on medical marijuana here.
The first dispensary in Florida to offer low-THC medical marijuana products is expected to open in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Unfortunately, there are still huge flaws in Florida’s law. Dispensaries may be opening up, but for most patients, the doors are still shut.
First, only low-THC marijuana will be available, and only patients with cancer, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms will qualify, leaving many patients behind. Although cannabis with more THC will eventually be available, it will only be for terminally ill patients.
Second, doctors are required to “order” a specific amount of cannabis, which is perilously close to prescribing it. This puts doctors at risk of violating federal law, and we expect that it will be very difficult for patients to find doctors willing to take this risk, which is why MPP does not classify Florida as a true medical marijuana state.
The best way to fix these problems is to support United for Care’s efforts to pass Amendment 2, which would create an effective medical program for Florida.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill into law that will provide limited legal protections to patients with intractable epilepsy who find relief from low-THC marijuana. MPP does not consider Virginia a medical marijuana state because the law is so limited that it does not meet our definition of an effective medical marijuana law.
The new law allows certain patients and their parents to raise a defense in court for possession of certain strains of marijuana, which must have no more than 5% THC. It does not prevent the trauma and expense of an arrest or prosecution.
HB 1445 also fails to include any means of accessing those oils. The only realistic way to obtain them is for families to travel across the country to one of the very few states that allows out-of-state patients to access medical cannabis preparations. Even then, patients will have to travel through states where all marijuana is illegal to get home.
You can learn more about the law’s details here.
If you are a Virginia resident, please ask your legislators to make sure this is only a first step. Ask them to champion a compassionate, comprehensive law next year that doesn't leave thousands of patients with other serious conditions behind. Let them know Virginia should join the 23 other states that leave medical decisions to patients and doctors, and allow safe, in-state access to this beneficial medicine.