Medical Cannabis Bill Gutted Before Passing House Commitee

Mar 3, 2016

For the first time in Iowa history, a Republican lawmaker introduced a medical marijuana bill in the statehouse. Peter Cownie, a Republican from Des Moines, introduced House Study Bill 607, now House File 2384, which would allow for the manufacture and distribution of cannabis oil in Iowa. The bill originally had ten conditions but the version that passed the Commerce Committee included only three--epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and terminal cancer. It would help people like Steve Gaer, Republican mayor of West Des Moines and cannabis advocate, whose daughter uses cannabidiol to treat her epilepsy.

"The results have been miraculous. In the first six weeks, she slept through the night for the first time she slept through the night in 25 years."

Possession of the oil, with a card, has been legal in Iowa since 2014, but getting it across state lines is illegal. This law would help people like Gaer, though some critics feel its range is too narrow. Critics on the other side, like Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, say that desire for expansion is what makes bills like this such a slippery slope.

"Right now, the bill before us, House File 2384, has three conditions. I'm already getting emails, etc, etc, they want to expand that, including pain. [...] We sure don't want to go there before the clinical studies are done."

"I think we should wait til the Colorado experiment is complete. Because when I talk to people out there--and I'm talking to law enforcement people--the burdens on the schools, law enforcement, public safety, health providers, and neighboring states are huge. We shouldn't rush into something, even though we have anecdotal evidence at this time that it helps with certain conditions."

On this Legislative Day of River to River, host Joyce Russell speaks with Gaer, Baudler, and Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City and proponent of the comprehensive medical cannabis bill that passed the Senate last year. Steven Lukan, director of the governor’s office for drug control policy, also joins the conversation to discuss the future of medical cannabis law in Iowa.