State lawmakers considering bills to raise cap on THC in medical marijuana products
Two bills in the Iowa legislature are seeking to expand Iowa's medical cannabis program.
The bills, one in the Senate and one in House, seek to raise the current cap on THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that causes a high. Both pieces of legislation before lawmakers would remove the 3 percent THC cap on state-approved medical cannabidiol products.
Jennifer Husmann, with the Area Substance Abuse Council, said whenever there is talk about increasing access to products that contain THC, there are also reasons to be concerned.
"We're really very concerned about, otherwise, marijuana for the teenagers," Husmann said.
Husmann said she thinks THC can impact the developing brains of young people, resulting in potential mental health issues. She would not comment on the legislation at hand but does say whatever lawmakers decide should be done based on the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board's recommendations.
While the two bills seek to raise the THC cap, there are key differences between them. The bill the Senate is considering allows participants in the program to get up to 25 grams of THC every 90 days while the House bill prevents patients from getting more than 4.5 grams during that same period.
John Fenner, of Ottumwa, who said he enrolled in Iowa's medical cannabis program to treat chronic pain, thinks 4.5 grams is not enough for many patients.
"I'm just asking what I'm entitled to," Fenner said.
Carol Olsen, the director of advocacy group Iowans for Medical Marijuana, agreed the limit of THC should be higher than what is in the House bill but he says he still views both proposals favorably.
"As written they're both steps in the right direction," Olsen said.
The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board did recommend in their 2019 annual report limiting THC to 4.5 grams over a 90 period. The board also said practitioners should have the option to increase that amount of THC prescribed for those with terminal or debilitating conditions.