# Medical Marijuana

An Open Letter to Joni Ernst Regarding Iowa's Cannabis Oil Bill

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Note from desmoinesdem: Cross-posted from the Abram Mayhem blog. The Iowa legislature adopted and Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a measure to legalize cannabis oil for some seizure disorders in 2014.

Dear US Senator Joni Ernst,
I was in the Drake Diner in Des Moines, Iowa the day you came to celebrate your win for the US Senate. I was sitting in the booth right by the front door. I had my small son who was two at the time and you had a large group in the back who cheered loudly and clapped for you as you came in.

You didn’t notice that when your group of supporters began screaming for you, that my son slammed his head twice on the edge of table. The noise your group suddenly made (without regard to any of the other patrons) both terrified and overwhelmed him. The metal edging on those old vintage-style tables there really did a number on my son’s forehead and he had a lump and a bruise for over a week. Two of your supporters noticed my son in hysterics as they walked by. Instead of smiling or offering some form of apology for the uproar, they sneered at us as I was trying to calm him down. I’m sure they saw the huge welt on his forehead and thought of me as a terrible mother. They were both still smoking outside when we left.

You didn’t acknowledge my son that day in the Diner and you aren’t acknowledging him now. So, it didn’t surprise me when you accidentally sent me the response to “crude oil” instead of “cannabis oil” to my e-mail. It’s those little attention-to-details things one has to do when someone truly cares about their people. I was pleased to see that I received an additional e-mail today with your response to “cannabis oil” instead of “crude oil” today.

The bare-boned truth here is you didn’t take the time to actually hear what my real concerns were at all. My name was just pasted into a bulk e-mail (just like the “crude oil” response) and sent on out, without any real regard to what is happening to people in the Unites States of America, let alone your home state, Iowa. You yourself claimed in your campaign that you are a “normal, everyday” Iowan. If that were true, you would listen to the concerns of the mothers and families in this state who are reaching out to you for help in Iowa and in Congress.

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Massive Iowa Legislature linkfest (post-funnel edition)

The Iowa Legislature has been moving at an unusually fast pace during the shortened 2010 session. It’s time to catch up on what’s happened at the statehouse over the past three weeks. From here on out I will try to post a legislative roundup at the end of every week.

February 12 was the first “funnel” deadline. In order to have a chance of moving forward in 2010, all legislation except for tax and appropriations bills must have cleared at least one Iowa House or Senate committee by the end of last Friday.

After the jump I’ve included links on lots of bills that have passed or are still under consideration, as well as bills I took an interest in that failed to clear the funnel. I have grouped bills by subject area. This post is not an exhaustive list; way too many bills are under consideration for me to discuss them all. I recommend this funnel day roundup by Rod Boshart for the Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Note: the Iowa legislature’s second funnel deadline is coming up on March 5. To remain alive after that point, all bills except tax and appropriations bills must have been approved by either the full House or Senate and by a committee in the opposite chamber. Many bills that cleared the first funnel week will die in the second.  

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Pharmacy Board unanimously recommends legalizing medical marijuana

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted 6-0 today to recommend that Iowa legislators reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I narcotic to a Schedule II narcotic. Schedule II drugs have a “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

In April 2009, a Polk County judge instructed the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to examine evidence on possible medical uses for marijuana. Last summer the board declined to reclassify marijuana in Iowa but ordered public hearings on the subject.

The Iowa legislature’s “funnel” deadline passed last Friday with no action on a bill to legalize medical marijuana, meaning the issue is dead for the 2010 session. Leadership can bring up new bills after the funnel deadline, but I would be surprised if House and Senate leaders used that prerogative to move a medical marijuana bill forward during a shortened legislative session.

That said, lawmakers should not fear a political backlash if they do approve a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use in Iowa. In the latest Selzer and Co. statewide poll for the Des Moines Register, 64 percent of respondents supported “allowing medical marijuana,” while only 33 percent opposed the idea. I was surprised by how little opinions on this issue varied by the respondents’ age. Medical marijuana was supported by 67 percent of respondents 18-34, 67 percent of those aged 35-54, and 60 percent of those over 55. Younger Iowans were twice as likely as those over 55 to support legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

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article on the medical marijuana debate

Hey all, I haven’t posted in awhile, so this is pretty shameless, linking to the Ames Progressive again. But we just published our September issue with a 4500-word feature on the medical marijuana debate in Iowa (the first Board of Pharmacy hearing on the science behind its medical value was held last week).

I know the site’s been following this, so check this out if you’re interested in a comprehensive overview of what’s going on. Cheers!


Medical marijuana will be topic for public hearings

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy on Tuesday refused to reclassify marijuana as a medication doctors can prescribe, but voted to hold public hearings on the issue.

A bill introduced last year in the Iowa Senate would have allowed not-for-profit facilities called “compassion centers” to acquire, cultivate and deliver marijuana and related supplies to qualifying patients. The bill never got out of subcommittee, but its sponsor, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, said Tuesday that the Legislature could approve some sort of legalization.

The Iowa City Democrat applauded the plan to hold statewide hearings. “Like with any issue, there’s a certain education process that needs to go on,” he said.

Sen. Merlin Bartz, a Grafton Republican who served on the subcommittee, opposed Bolkcom’s bill because he thought it offered too few controls. However, Bartz said he believes more legislators would support a medical-marijuana bill with the same kinds of tight regulations already in place on prescription painkillers and other addictive drugs.

When the Iowa Board of Pharmacy announces dates and locations for these public hearings, I will include them on my event calendars at Bleeding Heartland.

Iowa should not have to reinvent the wheel on medical marijuana. Presumably our legislators could adapt model language from statutes approved elsewhere.

Tony Leys of the Des Moines Register reported that the Board of Pharmacy’s resolution denying the request to reclassify marijuana also attacked Carl Olsen, who heads Iowans for Medical Marijuana. It cited Olsen’s various arrests on marijuana-related charges during the 1970s and 1980s.

Des Moines Register columnist Marc Hansen described the Board of Pharmacy’s reaction to Olsen as “overblown.” What bothers me is that board members seem to think Olsen’s personal history is relevant to the issue of whether marijuana should be classified as a drug so dangerous that Iowa doctors cannot prescribe it.

The Board of Pharmacy’s actions on this matter should not be influenced by members’ opinions about Olsen or his motives. Their job is to evaluate the evidence on whether marijuana has valid medical uses. Under certain circumstances, Iowa doctors already can prescribe narcotics that are more addictive than marijuana and have more harmful side effects.

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Iowa Board of Pharmacy will again consider medical marijuana

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy will again consider “whether marijuana is improperly classified as a schedule I controlled substance in Iowa,” according to a press release from Iowans for Medical Marijuana. The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 21, from 9:50 am to 10:20 am in the shared conference room located at RiverPoint Business Park, 400 S.W. Eighth Street, Suite E in Des Moines. Public comments will be limited to five minutes per speaker.

This will be the Iowa Board of Pharmacy’s third public hearing on the matter. At the previous hearing in June, the board declined to consider whether marijuana has “accepted medical use” in the U.S. Currently, Iowa law states that marijuana has no accepted medical use in this country, even though more than a dozen states now permit doctors to prescribe it under certain circumstances.

The press release from Iowans for Medical Marijuana contains more background information, so I’ve posted the full text after the jump. I’ll follow up on this story after Tuesday’s meeting of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.

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Pharmacy board declines to reclassify marijuana in Iowa

I missed this story earlier in the week, but caught it at the Huffington Post on Friday:

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy sidestepped a court ruling this week, which had ordered it to consider whether the state should reclassify marijuana as having medical value. […]

The effort to reclassify marijuana in Iowa is led by the American Civil Liberties Union and local medical marijuana users. […]

The pharmacy board was fully informed by assistant attorney general and counsel to the board Scott Galenbeck of its job. “Judge Novak’s ruling states,” Galenbeck read to the board, “‘The board must determine whether the evidence presented by petitioner is sufficient to support a finding that marijuana has accepted medical use in the United States and does not lack accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.’ A couple sentences before that the judge stated if the board believes that evidence presented by petitioner was insufficient to support such a finding it should have stated such in its order.”

The board had previously rejected the ACLU effort. The civil liberties group appealed to the district court, setting up this week’s rematch.

Yet the Iowa board, instead of asking whether it has “accepted medical use in the United States,” asked whether Iowa should approve of it, which is not a question for the board but for the Iowa legislature.

A bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana was introduced in the Iowa Senate this year. More details about that are after the jump.

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Grassley news roundup

I haven’t written anything yet about Senator Chuck Grassley’s comments on the AIG bonuses. The whole episode was such an empty populist gesture. First he said the AIG no-goodniks should act like the Japanese and either offer a humble apology or kill themselves. Then he walked back his comments and said they should offer a sincere apology. That’s all? I’d like to see more strings attached to the Wall Street bailout program, which Grassley voted for.

The Twitterer for the Daily Iowan Opinion page had the best response to Grassley I’ve seen so far. After the senator explained that “I do want an attitude in corporate American that’s similar to what they have in corporate Japan,” DIOpinions commented, “Making failed American executives more like their Japanese counterparts would require massive pay cuts.” Don’t hold your breath until Grassley gets behind that.

Anyway, we’ll find out how much Grassley cares about getting taxpayers’ money back from AIG when the Senate votes on the bill the House of Representatives passed yesterday.

Follow me after the jump to read about Grassley’s recent comments on medical marijuana and health care reform.

Also, I can confirm that at least one Democrat is stepping forward to challenge Iowa’s senior senator in 2010. Details are below.

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