Proponents for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for epilepsy and many other conditions in Iowa may get some help from the federal government. U.S. lawmaker and chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is interested in finding ways to generate more research into the medical possibilities and effects of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD).
Iowa lawmakers denied progress for the state’s medical marijuana program earlier this year when it upheld a ban on the production and distribution of high-CBD medical cannabis within the state. Greeley recently held a meeting to discuss the issue of expanded research.
Federal research thus far has been limited, but studies show that cannabidiol can not only relieve spasms and anxiety, it also reduces inflammation and inhibits tumor growth. The Republican senator has received much correspondence from frustrated constituents who are legally allowed to possess CBD but cannot obtain it.
Greeley held the hearing in response to concerns raised by both members of the public and state lawmakers who have suggested that the path to more research is through a removing cannabis from the current Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act. The senator is encouraged by a move by the Food and Drug Administration to remove one layer of review for cannabidiol research. Greeley said,
“I think our hearing and the letters that we got answered from (the Drug Enforcement Administration) as well as (Health and Human Services) show that you can do research without having to reschedule.”
Grassley, in cooperation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, plans to keep the issue on the table.
The Iowa state government recently faced additional scrutiny regarding its limited medical marijuana program when it was reported that the price tag for 50 medical CBD cards came to $115,000. The commission to make the cards went to the Massachusetts company MorphoTrust USA. The cards were paid for from the state general fund. Melissa Spiegel, an Iowa Department of Transportation spokesperson, defended the amount as reasonable.
The cards were approved in 2014, and the application process began in January 2015. The card program has already come under fire for being difficult to maneuver and largely ineffective. The approval process can be lengthy and complex. For many Iowans who seek the benefits of CBD, difficult access and questionable legality continue to keep treatment out of reach.