Advocate Quinn Symonds shares his perspective on some medical cannabis proposals recently introduced in the state legislature. Iowa’s very limited current law, which is unworkable even for families of those suffering from seizure disorders, expires in July. Efforts to expand it failed in the Iowa House last year. -promoted by desmoinesdem
I’ve been asked to talk about the medical cannabis bills. There are basically two sides to watch right now. There are several bills introduced by Democrats and bills introduced by two Republicans, Iowa House Public Safety Committee Chair Clel Baudler and Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Zaun. I will be referring to Democratic State Senator Joe Bolkcom’s proposals. He has two out currently: a version of last year’s bill that failed to pass, and a “newer” version of the same bill. On the Republican side I will focus on Baudler’s bill. These bills aren’t exactly great: they are supposed to help patients, and neither would do much of that.
We can start off with House Study Bill 132 because its author (Baudler) is the chair of a committee. Consequently, it has the most chance to not collect dust. Let’s be perfectly clear: this is not a medical cannabis bill. It allows for Cannabidiol (CBD oil) and broadens its access. Cannabidiol is from the hemp or cannabis plant, but for CBD laws the THC threshold limit is three percent. Cannabidiol is extracted from the cannabis plant and this bill expands access to the oil. This is not a medical cannabis bill.
In 2014 Iowa passed a law allowing use of CBD oil for certain forms of epilepsy. It was a very restrictive and essentially pointless bill. Fewer than 100 people signed up for the registration cards, and over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars of taxpayer money was used to create this program and also audit it. This bill was not good for patients either. Contemplatively, it is an awful bill. Medical cannabis and medical patients cannot be passed on as another “non-issue” this year and history proves that this time we must do it right. Lives depend on it.
This CBD bill is decently written, considering its purpose. One thing I noticed is that it allowed for income assistance in obtaining your medical card, which helps those living in poverty. Baudler’s CBD bill also allows for people to be able to grow the cannabis/hemp and sell it in dispensaries.
The Democratic bill would allow four companies to handle all of Iowa’s medical cannabis distribution. To put it into perspective, Illinois has a very similar program and has 14 companies running the entire state. Those manufacturers control the price, and are depended on for quality. In Illinois, some dispensaries reportedly won’t consider certain companies because their product is deemed “subpar” by other standards. Not having wider access also causes a huge problems for sick and debilitated people, who must drive long distances for only a few weeks worth of cannabis. If the goal is to help patients, Democrats must concede on the corporate control issue and immediately amend that part in their bill to allow Iowans to legally grow and distribute their own medicine.
One thing both sides seem to agree on: they don’t want you to inhale marijuana or CBSs, for that matter. You can compare and contrast the other bills and see that inhale is stricken from all of them and only eating is allowed. I don’t get it. Baudler’s bill wouldn’t allow you to use a smoke free alternative to smoking and vape CBD oil, which is popular. Smoking joints isn’t even that unhealthy for you. Democrats apparently don’t want you to inhale at all, or this never occurred to them. Everyone needs to understand that inhalation is probably the cheapest and most popular way to use. There are some conditions where inhaling is necessary and the only form of therapy. Talk to people going through cancer and see if they want to just eat marijuana. It is a well documented fact that in most successful cancer – cannabis care plans, both eating and inhaling were utilized for the best results to treat all side effects including appetite, vomiting, and controlling mucus. For this subset group, inhaling can be critical, saving lives while keeping families together.
Inhalation needs to be included in any bill. It’s not in any way increasingly harmful, and definitely not as bad or addictive as cigarettes or alcohol, which are legal. We must not let lawmakers take inhalation out of any bill. The bills must be amended.
Baudler’s bill seems to have a broader patient base, so is much less restrictive. I wonder if that has to do with the low amount of the psychoactive THC in CBD oil. EIther way, both proposals have expanded coverage for additional medical conditions, which would be great for patients. I’ve tried to get estimates of how many people in Iowa would qualify to acquire CBD as medicine. Illinois has over 16,000 and closing in on 16,500, mostly because its lack of coverage. People have told me possibly 200,000 Iowans would qualify to use cannabis as medicine under the new proposals. Over eighty percent of Iowans support medical marijuana, so I can’t see people not getting it prescribed to them. I believe the numbers in Iowa could be much more.
Another thing addressed in the Democratic bill, but not in the Republican one, is rescheduling of CBD. I don’t know if Baudler didn’t get the memo, but CBD is considered a schedule 1 drug now. I didn’t see anywhere in his bill where he addressed that particular issue. However, the Democrats did. Prior to the rescheduling of CBDs, you could get hemp oil that contained some of the same things as the cannabis plant. Now with the law being changed the Republicans, if they are serious, need to address that issue finally. Republican President Trump supports medical marijuana, and so did many close to President Ronald Reagan. Let the doctors do the doctoring.
Neither bill deals with decriminalization. I know there is a bill or two floating around right now, but it’s important that we have these safeguards. There also need to be safeguards for patients; in Illinois, some doctors have reportedly refused to write prescriptions for people who qualify. Some people with histories of encounters with the law have also been refused access. I know Arizona changed their law in the past few years to allow felons access to medical cannabis, but we need to make sure they also have access in Iowa. That’s literally a lawsuit waiting to happen, and it has happened before. I’m told Illinois is working on fixing their law.
It’s really possible to set the bar here in Iowa with a comprehensive plan based on what we’ve learned and observed from other states. We could also make it so our colleges and universities could study the medical and agricultural benefits. You can even literally feed the seeds safely to farm animals. If we provide as much access to patients and industry as possible our small communities and those in it will definitely see the benefit. This is an issue that the majority of Iowans agree on and the results in the medical community prove themselves. Let’s come together to do this, but let’s do this right.