The “Medical Cannabidiol Act,” signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in May of last year, took effect on July 1, 2014. This limited medical marijuana legislation protects patients suffering from only one form of epilepsy and their caregivers from facing prosecution for possessing the form of medical marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
As of January 2015, the Iowa Department of Public Health has not issued a single medical marijuana identification card. This means that zero patients have been helped from the enactment of this restrictive law.
Under the Medical Cannabidiol Act, only patients suffering from intractable epilepsy are permitted to use only the non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as CBD, in the form of oil. This medicine must contain less than 3 percent of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Not only does this legislation seriously restrict who can use cannabis therapy, it also does not allow for the CBD oil to be produced or manufactured in the state. This means that even if a patient is able to qualify for the Iowa medical marijuana program, he or she would be forced to obtain their medicine on the black market.
One of the parents of a boy with intractable epilepsy, who advocated for this law, Maria La France explained her fear of using CBD oil to the quad city times,
“It’s just too dangerous. It’s too scary to break the law, too difficult to lose sleep at night. I frankly spend enough time worrying if my child is going to live another week. I have experimented … I don’t want to say anything that’ll get me arrested or in jail. I don’t want a lynch mob. Who would take care of him if I got arrested.”
La France did obtain a medical marijuana card for her son in Colorado last year, but she let it expire out of fear of prosecution. Even if she kept the Colorado medical marijuana card up to date, she would be committing a crime punishable by years in jail every time she carried the medicine across state lines.
Essentially, the Medical Cannabidiol Act of Iowa is a completely pointless piece of legislation that benefits no one. Senator Joe Bolkom of Iowa City realized this and plans to introduce a bill to develop the medical marijuana program a bit further when the Iowa legislature reconvenes. Bolkom reported that he wants to allow patients suffering from more medical conditions to be eligible, and pointed out, “The medicine has to be produced within the state.”
For the sake of those suffering from many different debilitating medical conditions in the state of Iowa, hopefully the state legislature will take a good look at the weakness of the Medical Cannabidiol Act, and make the necessary amendments for it to be an effective law.