Pharmacy Board Tables Marijuana Question Until January

Nov 19, 2014

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is holding off on recommending that the Iowa Legislature reclassify marijuana.

Currently marijuana is listed as a schedule I and schedule II substance. Only the latter can be used for medical purposes. 

This year, cannabis oil was made legal in Iowa to treat chronic epilepsy.  The new law spurred the pharmacy board to reexamine marijuana's legal status. 

"I believed we decided to table it, to have a little more time to think about it," says Board Chairman Ed Maier, a pharmacist from Monona County. "Primarily because...federal law and state law would be in conflict."

The federal government classifies marijuana as schedule I, despite several states legalizing the drug for both medicinal and recreational use.  

Vice-chair James Miller questions the board’s authority in the matter. He also says that the board already recommended the Legislature change marijuana’s classification, back in 2010.

"That recommendation is still there, I don't think think there needs to be any more discussion from the Board of Pharmacy," says Miller, pharmacist from Dubuque. "Iowa legislature is elected by the citizens of Iowa, they can make decisions and pass any laws that they want to." 

In an email, Assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Dale Woolery says the issue brings up public health and safety concerns.

"Pharmacy Board deliberations illustrate the complexity of the marijuana issue, when trying to help those in medical need ‎with something for which at best there is no scientific consensus," says Woolerly. "More research is needed."

The board will return to the issue at its January 3 meeting.