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Iowa's only medical marijuana producer sees uncertain future without changes

Employees at MedPharm work on the production of medications (KCCI)
Employees at MedPharm work on the production of medications (KCCI)(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 27, 2019 at 9:41 PM CST
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Sunday marks one year since MedPharm began selling medical cannabis in Iowa, but the company says it won't survive another year unless the state expands the products it can sell.

KCCI reports that MedPharm general manager Lucas Nelson said he sold about 13,500 cannabis products during the first year, adding up to $2 million in sales.

“The biggest thing we've learned is this has made a huge difference for so many patients,” Nelson said.

It’s not all good news for MedPharm. Lucas said he is worried about Illinois, which begins selling legal recreational Marijuana Jan. 1.

He said he fears Illinois could put Iowa's medical cannabis program out of business

“I think there is no doubt that they will be going to Illinois to receive the medicine they need,” Lucas said. “So, we've got to do something to make sure they stay here and not encourage our own citizens to break the law.”

Lucas said he hopes state lawmakers expand conditions approved for medical cannabis to include post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s. He also said lawmakers need to approve larger doses.

“If this program did not expand, and expand very quickly, I don't think any of the licensees will be able to expand long term,” he said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds toured MedPharm's plant Tuesday. Reynolds made it clear that she does not want to make any hasty decisions.

“This is Iowa,” Reynolds said. “I'm not going to base my policies based on what Illinois is doing. I want to make sure we are doing it in a rational, safe, compassionate manner.”

Lucas said he hopes changes will be made in time to keep Iowa’s medical marijuana program alive.

“Without some changes, I don't see this program surviving,” he said.

Reynolds said she remains opposed to making recreational marijuana legal in Iowa, despite what's happening in Illinois's.

Read the original story on KCCI's website.