Lawmaker: Medical Marijuana Bill Unlikely to Move This Session

By Alison Sullivan, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa - Two families joined Democratic lawmakers to push for legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana and help patients like their children find a treatment that provides relief.

Sally Gaer, joined by her husband West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer, said their 24-year-old daughter, Margaret, would benefit from a liquid form of cannabis to treat her epilepsy. Gaer said her daughter suffers from multiple seizures a week despite the handful of medicine she takes including a drug imported from France.

The proposed legislation would establish regulations allowing doctors to prescribe the use of medical cannabis for treating conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS among other conditions.

However, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, declared the bill dead on arrival after introducing it Tuesday morning because he said it lacks bipartisan support.

"I'm very disappointed in everybody in this building who is afraid they may not be re-elected for doing what's right for the citizens who are fragile and medically ill in Iowa," Gaer said.

Bolkcom, a co-sponsor and long-time advocate for medicinal marijuana, said he was unable to garner enough Republican support for the bill this session but will raise the issue again next legislative session.

"It's a significant disappointment that we don't have that (support) this morning," he said.

However, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said Republicans aren't responsible for blocking the legislation.

"We're very open to those discussions," Dix said. "It's a new enough subject that a lot of legislators need to hear more about what needs to happen to address those needs in the future."

Maria LaFrance of Des Moines said the legislation would help her son, Quincy, who also suffers from epilepsy and patients in states that allow medical marijuana have reported relief from taking an oil form of cannabis.

Twenty states have regulations permitting doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis and Graer said she knows of friends who have left Iowa for states like Colorado to be able to obtain the liquid cannabis for their children.

Bolkcom said Senate File 2215 is modeled after New Mexico laws and said the bill includes several checks a patient must undergo before they could obtain medicinal cannabis.
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