Medical cannabis bill calls for expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) -- Right before the close of this year's state legislative session, lawmakers made some changes to the medical marijuana bill and sent it to the governor. Governor Kim Reynolds hasn't said if she will sign that bill.

The bill removes the three percent cap on THC in medical cannabis products. THC is the part of marijuana that gives someone a high. Iowa's five dispensaries will now be able to give out as much as 25 grams of THC during a 90 day period.

A medical professional who originally approved a patient to receive a medical cannabis card could apply for a waiver to exceed that total cap, upon approval of the medical cannabidiol board. The professional would have to prove that 25 grams would not be enough to treat the patient's condition, or that they have a terminal illness with less than a year to live.

The revision would also add "severe or chronic pain" as a potential qualifier for a patient to receive approval for medical cannabis products.

The list of conditions the medical marijuana law covers now include multiple sclerosis, cancer, severe autism and epilepsy. West Des Moines mayor Steve Gaer says his daughter, who has epilepsy, has really benefited from being able to use medical marijuana.

"You can just tell her coordination has improved. She's happier. She's sleeping better. She eats better," Graer said.

Advanced registered nurse practitioners or licensed physicians assistants would be considered valid health care practitioners who could certify patients to receive a medical cannabis card under the changes, as opposed to just doctors or osteopaths currently.

Senator Brad Zaun says cannabis oil is an alternative to addictive painkillers, like opioids. Governor Reynolds has 30 days to sign the bill. She has not said whether or not she will.