It's time to take a stand for cannabis

No medical cannabis bills made it through the Iowa legislature’s “funnel” this week. Quinn Symonds comments on the debate and recounts a March 1 event advocates organized to inform state lawmakers about the issue. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In my previous Bleeding Heartland post, I talked about key differences between Republican and Democratic proposals on medical cannabis. I’m hoping that if you did catch the last piece, you understand how neither of the bills are adequate. After visiting the Capitol on Wednesday and talking to many leaders, one thing became clear to all of us: there isn’t so much a party divide as a lack of enthusiasm from Republican leaders.

One of the big questions people have asked was did we talk with Republicans during our Legalize Cannabis in Iowa event. Absolutely, we talked to many Republican lawmakers, and some GOP staffers. They wanted information on decriminalization as well as basic facts and figures.

In terms of speaking attendance, we had Jeff Soenksen as our industry expert. He’s worked in Colorado, where patients can grow, and he currently manages a dispensary in Illinois. He talked about security at the dispensaries and about how their state program is run.

He also brought up to some legislators the importance of access. Our team supports open grow for a variety of reasons; economic, quality, variety, and innovation. When you allow only a handful of companies to provide medicine, you’re asking for disaster.

Jeff explained that open grow ensures patients access to medicine in a market driven by supply and demand. He voiced concern because some people with debilitating diseases cannot drive hours every two weeks for medicine they can barely afford, because the producers have a monopoly and gauge their consumers, thus they fall between the cracks. He also brought up that there are just 50 dispensaries total in Illinois; Iowa has almost twice as many counties.

Cannabis is for medicine and it’s important to remember that. People are unduly suffering in Iowa, and our Christian leaders are doing nothing about it. Christian leaders in both Florida and Texas have been lobbying for some time now to Republican leadership. It’s time for Republicans in Iowa to side with patients and their conscience.

Our other speaker was Dr. L.D. Wedewer, Ph.D., U.S. Autism Ambassador. In cannabis culture, Lynnice is a proverbial “unicorn” and the literal kryptonite bullet through their logic. She conveyed to me that some in the old guard on the Republican leadership side were not extremely happy to see her. Most legislators admired her and treated her with great respect for the many things she accomplished for her causes. Lynnice also sat on the Democratic Platform State Committee for many years until she had to go on medical leave for her cancer. Most legislators know her for her dignity, honor, and being “the solid facts” lady.

This week, many said they were excited to see her back at the Capitol and were glad she will be lending her talents and expertise to this topic. Some further stated they really needed her and our crew, perfect timing to return for such an important topic of concern.

Many were in shock to hear they wouldn’t be able to buy a first copy of her new book, Cannabis PDR. They were astounded at the credible, well-sourced United States historical proof, which covered well over 400 diseases and conditions. A few even went on to state her work always impresses them. It was humbling to know she was on our team and on the right side for humanity. They were greatly encouraged by the entire team’s handouts, historical books, Cannabis PDR, and the wealth of information we had to offer as insight on real solid levels.

Lynnice is a kind gentle soul, but she also has three (almost four) PhDs, almost 20 year ambassador to autism, and is one of very few people authorized by the federal government to use cannabis as medicine. She’s highly intelligent, funny, kind, very professional, yet fierce when she needs to be – but a walking contradiction to the argument that cannabis is not medicine and completely safe given by some Republicans to avoid the issue. They like to parrot the words we want to wait and see what the federal government says, well they told her to take this plant. And it’s saved her life several times and eases her symptoms.

It really burned my grits when I heard a conservative figure say he doesn’t know any good people that smoke pot. Lynnice has dedicated her life to greatness. In addition to her PhDs and her work as U.S. Autism Ambassador, she has achieved many amazing things and is world renowned for her accomplishments. She’s supported many causes and even worked with the state platform committee for a while as a vice chair, helping Carl Olsen get cannabis on the platform for many years, silently as she was still bound at that time by federal law not to speak out. She championed each and every cause she worked for, while under different levels of THC intoxication. That’s part of the astounding part of her story to me, and to many legislators who knew her over the years. The couch potato old standard of thought no longer could fit in a pretty box, prompting questions as to why cannabis cannot work safely for others. Lynn has an incredible insight and has the foresight into how to fix these issues.

We had all the answers you could want, including very rare and extremely ooooold medical books showing cannabis as use for different types of medicine. We also had people drop by to ask if we would join a subcommittee at 8 am the next day; it had just been scheduled while we were having our event. Regretfully we all had to decline. We would love an opportunity to speak to them on a real level, but family has to come first, and that goes for all of us. Lynnice has requested cannabis hearings to address these issues bases on the wealth of historical proof she owns and has documented, as well as the insight our team brings. Not just perspective, but actual experience.

We decided to do something, though: we wrote a bill that we think could be bipartisan. (It’s an improved version of Republican State Representative Clel Baudler’s bill, discussed here.) If a cannabis bill doesn’t make it through the funnel, it doesn’t have a chance all year. We have shared our bill with a few officials, and after listening to their concerns, we were hoping a last ditch effort to address their concerns before funnel. It’s not perfect, but it has most of the right components, and seems to be what they were stating was a hot point they cannot address until next year but would consider.

Lynnice stated, “Now is the time for change. We must take a bipartisan un-biased approach to fix this topic that has taken many years through propaganda to close. I believe we have put together the educational information required to move this topic forward with clear concise solid historical facts that all legislators seem to be open and receptive to. We are in an age where we must protect each individual’s right to not be forced to suffer or die. Today we are trying to open the doors to sparing more lives while closing the door to so many falling through the cracks. I am very proud of my friends and other experts in the field standing up to support our efforts. Many of these same doctors are co-signing these bills with us both state and federally, Dr. Robert Melamede, Dr. David Allen, and other experts are standing up in great support. Quinn Symonds has been very helpful in Iowa this session for me. He has really kicked in helping to write or co-sign some of the state bills now on the floor. I appreciate everything he does it has been an asset to help me stay on track and going forward with his roles as we work together as a team to make positive changes for all individuals. We have two dream teams for both state and federal cannabis Hearings if they are serious about fixing these issues and happy to be available for meetings or with legislators. I have received a third offer from legal professionals in various fields of law in the United States to work with us to ensure we meet our goals. The response we are receiving has been a step forward in receptiveness to cannabis.” Lynnice started this movement some time ago; she certainly has their attention today.

Whatever happens though, we must be steadfast and thorough. It’s important to always be moving forward and pulling people up behind us. If any bill makes it through though, it may require work from not just representatives but other activists as well. It is going to be an election season after all, and I would fully consider backing a gubernatorial candidate who has pledged full and absolute support for medical cannabis just because of that. Think about that for a moment: 80 percent of Iowans support it. None of our other issues get taken seriously anyways.

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