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State seeking federal exemption for Iowa's medical cannabis program

Carl Olsen, the founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, brings us up to date on his efforts to reconcile state and federal drug laws. -promoted by Laura Belin

Retail sales of medical cannabis products began in Iowa on December 1, 2018, implementing Iowa House File 524, which lawmakers passed on the final day of the 2017 legislative session.

Iowans for Medical Marijuana submitted an application to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January 2019, seeking to exempt Iowa’s Medical Cannabis Program from federal drug laws. That application used the process in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1307, 21 C.F.R. §1307.03. I then began to lobby the state legislature and the Iowa Department of Public Health to support the application.

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Why I'm asking Iowa to seek an exemption from federal drug laws

Carl Olsen recounts his long battle to reschedule cannabis and the latest legal steps in his effort to reconcile state and federal drug laws. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month, I filed a petition with the Iowa Department of Public Health, asking the agency to start the process of obtaining a federal exemption for Iowa’s medical cannabis law.

I had presented this idea to Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Board in August 2019. The board members unanimously approved the concept and recommended in January 2020 that the legislature protect schools and long-term care facilities, which “are hesitant to allow medical cannabidiol products to be administered and stored at the facilities due to the current scheduling of Cannabis at the federal level.” The board suggested “Developing language to protect these facilities or seeking exemption for Iowa’s program from federal drug laws.”

Instead of adopting my proposal, Republican lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 2589, which instructed the Department of Public Health to “request guarantees” from federal agencies that they would not withhold federal funding from educational or long-term care facilities that allow patients to possess or staff to administer medical cannabidiol.

That approach makes no sense, because it would put Iowa in direct conflict with federal drug law. As I wrote in my petition, “There is no formal process for requesting guarantees from federal agencies not to withhold funding for violation of federal drug laws.”

Here’s why Iowa should take a different path.

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Logical, but disappointing: Reynolds vetoes medical cannabis bill

Carl Olsen analyzes the big news the governor tried to bury in a pre-holiday weekend news dump. He has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed House File 732 on May 24. The bill passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both legislative chambers: 96 to 3 in the Iowa House and 40 to 7 in the Iowa Senate. The full text of the governor’s veto letter is enclosed at the end of this post.

This is a tough issue for me to write about. I totally agree with the governor’s logic. At the same time, I am disappointed with the outcome.

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State board suggests more restrictive medical cannabis limits

Carl Olsen has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

In a highly unusual move, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on the afternoon of April 12 that the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board had rescheduled its planned meeting. Instead of convening for two and a half hours on May 3, the board would meet for one hour on April 16.

Members called the shorter, rushed meeting in order to discuss recommendations on the tetrahydracannabinol or THC cap and purchase limits in a bill the Iowa House approved last month.

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Iowa Senate committee puts THC cap in House medical cannabidiol bill

Carl Olsen reports on the latest legislative maneuvering around Iowa’s medical cannabis program. -promoted by Laura Belin

Key lawmakers said for months the 3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cap would never be lifted unless Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board recommended doing so. Nevertheless, the Iowa House mysteriously decided to lift the 3 percent cap on THC shortly before the first legislative funnel deadline on March 8.

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What really happened last week with the medical cannabidiol bill?

Carl Olsen is a leading advocate for expanding access to medical cannabis in Iowa and maintains the Iowans for Medical Marijuana website. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Des Moines Register reported on March 29 that a member of the Iowa Medical Cannibidiol Advisory Board had resigned over comments made on the floor of the House during debate on House File 732. (Bleeding Heartland covered that bill’s passage here.)

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