Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Iowa House Committee

Could Move to Full House for Vote Soon

By Mike Wiser

DES MOINES — Iowans would be allowed to possess and use a limited form of medical marijuana under a bill now headed to the House floor.

The legislation, approved 13-5 by a House committee Tuesday, gives legal protection for people who suffer from seizures, or their guardians, to use marijuana-based cannabidiol treatments they could purchase in other states.

Only people who obtain a state-sanctioned user card, the qualification for which includes a neurologist’s prescription, can legally possess the drug.

“It protects us from criminalization, that’s the important part,” said Maria LaFrance, whose 12-year-old son Quincy suffers from epileptic seizures.

She and Quincy became forceful advocates for legalization legislation over many visits to the Statehouse this year.

“We’re just grateful for any compassion that is there, and compassion is not new in Iowa,” she said.

The bill passed the Iowa Senate last week. House members added three amendments in committee Tuesday.

One requires the University of Iowa School of Medicine to conduct a clinical study on the effectiveness of cannabidiol but appropriates no money toward the study.

Another limits the amount of cannabidiol a person can possess to 32 ounces. That works out to roughly a six-month supply, said Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, a pharmacist.

The third calls for the creation of rules that would allow out-of-state caregivers to obtain temporary cards.

“So if you have grandma in Rock Island who is going to watch a family member in Davenport for a week, she can administer this,” said Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota.

Republican Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, a former state trooper who was listed by the Marijuana Policy Project as one of the eight “Worst State Legislators” on marijuana legalization issues in 2013, said he’s come to recognize the importance of cannabis oil as a potential treatment.

“I refuse to call it medical marijuana. It’s hemp oil. I hope it works,” he said. “Right here, right now, we have the opportunity to do something that is very good.”

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who has been the driving force behind the bill in the Senate, said the House amendments “improve the bill” and suspected the bill would pass the Senate if it makes it through the House.

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