Iowa legislators pulled an all-nighter at the Capitol to close out the 2014 session. The Iowa House adjourned for the year a little before 6 am, while the Senate will return briefly on Friday to authorize further investigation of Branstad administration controversies.
It will take several days for Bleeding Heartland to cover the most important news about the state budget and other bills passed toward the end of the session. I was surprised to see that Iowa House leaders did call up Senate File 2360, the limited medical cannabis bill the Iowa Senate approved last Friday. As of yesterday afternoon, that bill seemed doomed. I saw some speculation that leaders might not even call it up for debate. A few Republicans had filed more than a dozen amendments, apparently with the goal of killing the bill on the floor. State Representative Chip Baltimore was one sponsor of the poison pill amendments. He told the Des Moines Register that
a bill legalizing marijuana – even in an extremely limited way for an extremely limited purpose – simply couldn’t be introduced, debated and passed in the space of a week.
“We’re being asked to take an extraordinary leap of faith,” Baltimore said, referring to the reassurances [Representative Rob] Taylor and others have given on cannabidiol’s safety and efficacy. “You don’t do that in five days.”
Lawmakers negotiated well pass midnight and agreed to make small changes to the medical cannabis bill. It will still allow only the use of cannabis oil, not marijuana in smokeable form. According to Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson, the new language also “requires patients to get an Iowa neurologist’s recommendation for cannabis oil.” The Iowa House approved the bill by 75 votes to 20 just after 3:30 am. CORRECTION: The final roll call was 77 votes to 20. The Senate approved the House version by 38 votes to 8 about an hour later. The Senate roll call is after the jump. I’ll update this post with the House roll calls once it becomes available on the Iowa legislature’s website.
Governor Terry Branstad indicated a few weeks ago that he is open to a cannabis oil bill, as long as it’s “very limited in focus.” I expect him to sign Senate File 2360.
UPDATE: Added a statement below from State Senator Joe Bolkcom, the legislature’s leading advocate for medical marijuana.
All 26 Iowa Senate Democrats voted for the final version of the medical cannabis oil bill, joined by the following twelve Republicans:
The eight Republicans who voted no were:
Republicans Mark Chelgren, Joni Ernst, Dennis Guth, and Hubert Houser were absent from this vote. Chelgren, Ernst, and Houser voted for the Senate version that passed on April 25, while Guth voted against it.
UPDATE: Statement by Senator Joe Bolkcom on May 1:
Iowa takes “big first step toward safe,
legal access to medical cannabis”
Iowa has taken a big first step toward safe, legal access to medical cannabis. Credit goes to the families who helped legislators understand the need for change.
I urge Governor Branstad to both sign this first step, and then encourage action to help other Iowans who would live better, longer lives if medical cannabis were legal in Iowa.
These Iowans suffer from diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries, glaucoma, severe chronic pain and PTSD. These Iowans should have the same rights as the residents of 20 other states to medicines that could improve their lives or, at least, make their deaths less painful.
LATE UPDATE: The House approved Senate File 2360 by 77 votes to 20 (pdf).
43 Democrats who were present voted for the bill, along with the following 34 Republicans. I put asterisks next to members of the House leadership team:
Guy Vander Linden
Democratic State Representative Dan Kelley and the following 19 Republicans voted against the bill:
Mary Ann Hanusa
Two Democrats and Republican Brian Moore were absent for this vote.