Iowans at Risk of Losing Medical Marijuana if Lawmakers Allow Limited Program to Expire in July

Michigan Pushes to Protect Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Something really sad is going to happen in Iowa if lawmakers there don’t extend and expand the current medical marijuana program, which essentially allows residents to use CBD for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

Without legislative action, the program expires on July 1 and Iowa’s 222 medical marijuana patients, many of whom are children, will be in trouble.

The program already has its problems because it does not provide an avenue for Iowans to obtain cannabidiol oil, or any medical marijuana products, in Iowa. Patients need to travel to states where it is produced. Unfortunately, not all states permit the sale of MMJ products to non-residents.

That’s why people like Cassie Helland are becoming anxious. Her 10-year-old son’s head-drop seizures completely stopped after two weeks of CBD oil treatments and never returned.

What more proof do lawmakers need? Such cases like Caleb Helland’s epilepsy are not isolated.

Ms. Helland and her fellow advocates have spent the past two years pressing lawmakers to expand the program.

An editorial published in the Sioux City Journal said “lack of action returns the state—and those who suffer from epilepsy and other illnesses for which medical marijuana might help—to square one.”

While the Iowa legislature took an important first step in 2014 and passed a limited medical cannabis program, the bill never addressed production and distribution of MMJ the state. In other words, Iowans with medical marijuana cards can legally possess CBD oil for treatment of epilepsy, but it is illegal to produce or distribute it.

Cassie told the Quad-City Times that many families have to use their MMJ card to get CBD oil from states such as Colorado.

Several states have medical marijuana reciprocity, including Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Advocates for expansion say they would also like more forms of medical cannabis to be legalized for more ailments, such as cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We are hopeful for a more comprehensive program that will help more Iowans,” said Sally Gaer of West Des Moines, co-founder of the advocacy group Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis, whose daughter has a rare form of epilepsy.

“We have kids with epilepsy that need THCA (another compound that occurs naturally in the marijuana plant) because the [oil] doesn’t work for them, so they need a different component of the plant. So we need to help those kids.”

From the Sioux City Journal editorial:

If discussion of expanding Iowa’s medical marijuana program to include other illnesses is preventing anything from happening for epilepsy patients this year, then lawmakers should put such expansion on hold.

What they shouldn’t do, however, is abandon the state’s existing medical marijuana program — and, by extension, those Iowans it seeks to support — altogether.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts