Iowa City Senator Plans to Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Max Walker

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legalizing medical marijuana will again be debated in the upcoming legislative session, though Iowa lawmakers have so far been loath to embrace a policy that is finding acceptance elsewhere.

Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City, says he will pursue legislation seeking to legalize medical marijuana in 2014. Bolkcom acknowledges similar efforts have failed over the past decade, even as some nearby states have embraced medical marijuana. He calls Iowa a "cautious state."

A total of 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana, which advocates say eases the symptoms of illnesses like cancer, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

Bolkcom says he will offer bills reclassifying marijuana as a drug with medical benefits and creating a medical marijuana program modeled on New Mexico's system.

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