DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - Medical marijuana for thousands of Iowans in need - is one step closer to becoming reality.
Registration cards are required before you can get the medicinal oil. Applications for the cards go live on Monday, but there are some conditions that need to be met.
For the first time, Iowans who suffer from diseases other than just epilepsy will have the chance the get help from medical cannabis. That is because of a new law signed this year that expands the diseases covered. And as the door toward getting a registration card opens Monday, patients and advocates are cautiously optimistic.
"I mean it's the end result of what I was after, and I am very thrilled about it," said Tom Duncan of Jefferson.
Duncan has been suffering from kidney cancer for 11 years. He has tried nearly every medication to help him get through the chemotherapy, but nothing has helped.
"I've done some of the most dangerous you can do," Duncan said.
But now, after a long debate at the Iowa Statehouse earlier this year, his cancer is finally on the short list to get coverage.
"It's just a good step for the state," Duncan said. "As I go around and talk to people, there is a lot of interest out there and a lot of support. Cancer touches almost any family anymore, and I hope they can get help and relief. I'm hoping that with enough numbers and applications, they'll realize that they way underestimated Iowans wanting this medicine."
Iowans with AIDS, Crohn's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and a list of other diseases, can also apply for the first time. The new registration process includes required written certification from doctors, saying patients actually have a qualifying medical condition. They also need proper identification and other documentation, as well.
MS advocates say the requirements are just part of a tried and true process.
"When the state of Minnesota, they've had a program running here now for a few years and Minnesotans who have been living with MS have seen great benefits from that program," said Dan Endreson, the Senior Manager of Advocacy of Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Endreson also believes Iowans won't run into issues.
"At least with other states, that as long as the procedures are followed, then most people are put into the program," Endreson said.
And Duncan says he is thrilled that he is getting closer to getting the help he needs.
"It's going to be a long, slow process, but it started and it started in a good direction, and we're moving forward," Duncan said.
There is a $100 fee that goes along with the application for the medical cannabis card. They are $25 for people who participate in the medical assistance program. Applications will be available on the Iowa Department of Public Health's website starting Monday, or you can ask to get one in the way.
For more information, visit: https://www.idph.iowa.gov/mcarcp
Advocate groups say the next step will be closely monitoring how the state handles setting up its dispensing locations. The new law says manufacturers must start supplying medical cannabis to dispensaries by December 2018.
View the original story on WOI's website.