The Iowa state government has been under the medical marijuana microscope recently after reports surfaced that the Medical Cannabidiol Act, signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in May of 2014, has yet to help a single patient.
This very limited medical marijuana bill, enacted in July, only permits patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to treat the condition with the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), in the form of oil. The biggest issue with this type of limited legislation is not the fact that only one form and one method of delivery is permitted, nor that only patients suffering from one very specific medical condition are legally permitted to possess the oil. The tallest hurdle is that the law does not allow for the CBD oil to be produced or distributed in the state. There is no way for qualified patients to legally obtain the CBD oil.
If patients wanted safe access to the targeted cannabinoid therapy, they would be forced to break the law somewhere along the line. One option would be to illegally cultivate their own cannabis plants to then produce their own oil at home. Another option would be to purchase the oil in a state where it is legal, and then risk prosecution to carry it across state lines.
At least one Iowa law maker, Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City), recognizes this injustice, and is pushing to mend the problem. Sen. Bolkcom is drafting legislation for the 2015 session that would amend and expand the Medical Cannabidiol Act.
The new bill would allow for in-state medical marijuana production and distribution. It will also expand the list of qualifying medical conditions to include other suffering patients. Bolkcom also reported that he plans to include a provision that establishes a panel to advise future medical marijuana regulations. He explained,
“The other issue is creating a medical panel that would determine what conditions are appropriate to be included in the plan. So the big thing is production, testing and dispensing here in the state of Iowa.”
Even if this proposal is approved by the Senate, it will not likely earn much support from the Republican controlled Iowa House. Even though this particular legislation is not likely to pass, it does at least bring the issue to the attention of Iowa lawmakers, and may pave the way for future legislation.
photo credit: Iowa Public Radio