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Iowa Lawmakers Plan Attempt to Override Veto of Medical Marijuana Expansion

Senator Joe Bolkcom and Representative John Forbes are planning to challenge the veto.

A.J. Herrington

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Iowa Lawmakers Plan Attempt to Override Veto of Medical Marijuana Expansion
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Two Democratic lawmakers in Iowa are calling for a special legislative session to override last week’s veto of a medical marijuana expansion bill by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. On Friday, Reynolds vetoed a bill (House File 732) that would make more patients eligible to use medical cannabis products and increase the allowable THC dosage for therapeutic cannabis products. The bill was passed with bipartisan support in both the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate but was rejected by Reynolds last week.

On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Rep. John Forbes, both Democrats, said they plan to ask for a special session of the legislature to override Reynolds’ veto.

“By doing that, we hope the governor will know that we are serious, and we really think that this legislation is necessary to enhance the lives of Iowans through better care,” Forbes said.

Special Session Unlikely

Forbes, who is a licensed pharmacist, said that expanding the state’s medical marijuana program would help Iowans with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Although the bill was passed by the House with a vote of 96 to 3 and succeeded in the Senate by a margin of 40 to 7, he doesn’t believe the special session to override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in both houses to prevail, will be convened by the Republican majority. Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer issued a statement that echoed that sentiment.

“While there were many good things in this bill, I don’t know if it has the consensus necessary at this point to override a veto, so a special session would be ill-advised,” Upmeyer said. “The best way forward is to bring everyone to the table over the interim to craft a new bill based on the most recent recommendations from the Board. I am pleased to see that Governor Reynolds is willing to work on a solution that works for Iowans.”

Bill Expands Access to MMJ

Under House File 732, a provision in Iowa’s medical marijuana program limiting cannabis products to no more than 3 percent THC would be replaced with a limit of 25 grams of THC per patient every 90 days. The bill also removes a restriction excluding convicted felons from participating in the program and would allow more patients access to medical marijuana by replacing “untreatable pain” with “severe or chronic pain” on the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions.

In a statement released before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Reynolds pledged to work with legislators and the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board to reform the medical marijuana program, but said that the changes to the THC limit in House File 732 were not the right approach.

“The health and safety of Iowans is too important for us not to get this right,” Reynolds said.

“Ultimately, I believe Iowa must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion of our medical (cannabidiol) program is thoughtful and deliberate — particularly because Iowa’s program is in its infancy and the body of research that analyzes the efficacy of medical CBD is limited,” she added.

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