Iowa Lawmakers Push for Better Medical Marijuana Program

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As Iowa’s ultra-restrictive cannabis oil law prepares to come to a screeching halt, some state lawmakers are hoping to mastermind a plan to implement a more functional medical marijuana program for those patients who need it the most.

When the state legislature reconvenes at the beginning of 2017, Representative Clel Baudler told the Des Moines Register that he plans to introduce a piece of legislative heat intended to establish a system that will allow cannabis oil to be manufactured and disturbed statewide.

“If these people want [cannabis] grown in Iowa, processed in Iowa, I think we can make that happen,” Baudler said.

Although the possession of cannabis oil has been legal for a limited number of patients since 2014, the language of the statute is sort of a worthless offering, considering that it does not provide qualified patients with the ability to purchase medicine within the boundaries of the state. Instead, it forces the families of the sick to break federal law by smuggling in the oil from a legal state—an offense that comes with the potential of prison time.

Fortunately, the 2014 law came with a sunset provision that is set to self-destruct in July 2017. That’s why lawmakers are gearing up to propose a more functional program in the coming legislative session in hopes of getting something passed before the current plan becomes obsolete.

But don’t expect Iowa to get anywhere close to serious about creating a comprehensive enough plan to allow patients suffering from a wide range of conditions to gain access—that’s not about to happen, at least not anytime in the near future. Rather, Baudler’s concept for a medical marijuana update would give patients the freedom to cultivate low-THC cannabis (3.5 percent or lower) and establish an industry, of sorts, that would give these people the ability to purchase cannabis oil from licensed dispensaries.

Even with a modest proposal, one that will still fail to provide access to enough patients to be considered a true legal state, there is likely to be a significant amount of turbulence next year when it comes time to discuss what is next for medical marijuana.

Earlier this month, Iowa’s Republicans secured the supermajority of the House and Senate—putting the party in a position where no common ground is necessary for the elephants in the room to pass or reject a proposal.

Still, Democratic lawmakers remain optimistic that both parties will be able to come together on the issue.

If so, the state stands a fighting chance at taking medicinal cannabis to the next level.

That’s because earlier this year, Governor Terry Branstad said he would be willing to consider signing off on a plan to bring cannabis production and distribution to the Hawkeye State—but only if it continues to focus on non-intoxicating cannabis oil.

“If it’s just limited to the oil, that might be something that could be looked at,” he said. “I’ll keep an open mind. But again, there’s a lot different ideas and a lot of different proposals out there, and nothing reached a consensus point during this last session.”

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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