The Capitol Building of Iowa, located in Des Moines

Jim Bowen

Iowa Lawmakers Could Pass Enhanced MMJ Law Before Law Expires in July

Iowa’s limited medical cannabis program is set to expire in July, but advocates, along with some state lawmakers, see the sunset as an opportunity to rewrite a comprehensive set of rules for the program when the session reconvenes in January, the Des Moines Register reports. Under the current law, passed in 2014, medical cannabis oil use is allowed in the state but only for the treatment of epilepsy; however, a separate law bars the manufacture and distribution of the oil, essentially making it illegal for patients to obtain it.

Republican State Rep. Clel Baudler plans on introducing a bill that would permit both production and distribution of cannabis oil in the state, which has previously been opposed by other members of his party.

“Last year there was a hodgepodge of panic, if you will, in my caucus to do something. Well if we’re going to do something, let’s do something smart,” Baudler said in the report. “If these people want it grown in Iowa, processed in Iowa, I think we can make that happen.”

A bill by Republican Rep. Peter Cownie attempted to address this issue during last session, introducing a bill that would have allowed cannabis oil production and distribution in Iowa. That bill was blocked by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Tom Sands, a Republican.

But with the expiration date closing in, Democratic Rep. John Forbes said the legislature is now “under the gun.”

“The people that are currently accessing the medication will be breaking Iowa law as of July 1, and we can’t allow that to happen,” he said.

Baudler’s proposal would allow individuals to obtain a permit to cultivate cannabis with THC content of less than 3.5 percent but does not expand the conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatment.

“Somebody smarter than me would have to tell us which disease or condition medical marijuana extract could be used for,” he said. “Don’t tell me, ‘Well I’ve seen it on the Internet.’ I’ve seen horses talk and nuns fly on the Internet.”

Republican Gov. Terry Brandstad said he would “keep an open mind” on allowing for the production and distribution of cannabis oil in the state if “unintended consequences” are limited.

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