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Republican Leaders Deny Democratic Lawmakers' Request For Medical Marijuana Committee

representative john forbes
Joyce Russell/IPR file
Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, a leading proponent for expanding the state's medical marijuana program, speaks at the Iowa Capitol.

Republican leaders in the Iowa Legislature Thursday denied Democrats’ request to form a special committee to make recommendations for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, said a study committee would help with crafting a proposal to expand the program.

“The thought was if we could have this interim committee meeting, bring public members in and voice their opinion and concerns, I think that strengthens our bill and allows other legislators the opportunity to be able to hear what their constituents are saying, too,” Forbes said.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said there are existing avenues for discussion and public comment.

“So I think the issue at hand that we’re kind of dealing with is not necessarily lack of information, lack of study,” Upmeyer said. “It is a finer point of working with the governor to come up with a plan that she will agree with as well.”

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed a bipartisan bill that lawmakers passed in April. It would have allowed for more potent medical marijuana products, and Reynolds thought it would allow for too much THC (the chemical that makes people high).

Reynolds has said she wants to work on the issue but doesn’t support a study committee.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said medical marijuana will be at the forefront of the 2020 legislative session.

Democrats also failed to get Republican support to convene a special session to overturn Reynolds’ veto.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter