Advocates Plead for Medical Marijuana; Senate Committee Approves Bill

Apr 12, 2017

A Republican-dominated committee in the Iowa Senate today, on a nearly unanimous voice vote, approved a bill to legalize the production and sale of medical marijuana in Iowa to provide treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.   

The bill is similar to legislation approved in the past when Democrats controlled the Senate. 

It's a compassionate thing to do. -Sen. Tom Greene

It appears to have no chance of passage in the Republican-controlled House.    

Sen. Tom Greene (R-Burlington), called the bill a natural progression.

“There are so many Iowans who have been left behind on treatment,” Greene said.   “This is a pathway for alternative use that has been approved in 28 other states, so it's not a new idea.” 

But Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says Republicans in the House could not pass a similar bill in the past, and they still have problems with it today. 

Sally Gaer of West Des Moines and Marie La France of Des Moines. Gaer's daughter Margaret and La France's son Quincy suffer from epilepsy. Both have been active advocating for medical marijuana in Iowa
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

“This is pretty much the bill that Joe Bolkcom has filed every year,” Upmeyer said, referring to Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City), a longtime advocate in the Senate for medical marijuana.   “No matter how you craft a medical marijuana bill, you’re still breaking federal law.”

“We’re not going to go with wide open medical marijuana,” said Rep. Jared Klein (R-Keota) who has managed drug-related bills in the past.      

Sen. Mark Costello (R-Imogen) was the only negative vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.   The bill goes next to a tax-writing committee in the Senate.

You're still breaking federal law. -House Speaker Linda Upmeyer

“The real hurdle now will be moving this bill forward in  the House,” said Sen. Matt McCoy (R-Des Moines).

"We are interested in making law,” said Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines.)   “This is not just a 'statement' bill.”