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Advocates, Lawmakers Celebrate Opening Of Iowa's First Medical Cannabis Maker

medpharm grand opening
Katarina Sostaric/IPR
Lawmakers and MedPharm officials cut the ribbon to open Iowa's first medical cannabis manufacturing facility Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

Lawmakers, advocates and state officials gathered in Des Moines Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of Iowa’s first medical cannabis manufacturing facility.

MedPharm leaders and elected officials credit Iowans advocating for themselves and their children with convincing the state to accept medical cannabis.

Lucas Nelson, who oversees the MedPharm facility’s development, said many wondered if they’d ever see a medical cannabis program starting up in Iowa.

marijuana plants
Credit Katarina Sostaric / IPR
IPR file
MedPharm's "mother room" is the start of all of the facility's plants.

“As you all can see, this day has indeed arrived,” Nelson said. “Iowans suffering from debilitating medical conditions knew there was an alternative to the pain they lived with daily. They invested thousands of hours pushing for legal access to medical access.”

The MedPharm facility is growing cannabis and formulating it into tinctures, capsules and creams.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen joined MedPharm leaders for the ribbon cutting.

The event brought out a lot of emotions for those who have spent years lobbying for medical cannabis.

After the ribbon cutting, Erin Bollman of Dallas Center said she’s excited she won’t have to travel to Colorado anymore to get medical cannabis for her son. 

“My little boy is 6 and he has a genetic mutation, which gave him autism, epilepsy, ADHD, nonverbal, so having access to this in our state is going to be a life-changer for him,” Bollman said.

Patients, advocates and MedPharm officials say they will keep pushing lawmakers to expand the cannabis program to provide more relief to more people, and to make it financially sustainable.

Five dispensaries across the state are scheduled to open December 1. Patients must get a medical card from the state to purchase cannabis products.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter