Scaled-Back Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

Feb 17, 2016

Republicans in the Iowa House have amended a bill to legalize the production and distribution of marijuana in the state. 

In its more limited form, it cleared two Republican panels and is now eligible for debate in the full House. 

To improve its chances, the revised bill covers fewer conditions with fewer places to buy the cannabis.   Altoona Republican Zach Nunn praised those who came up with the compromise.

“To able to focus it in a way that it can be meaningful and face a reality of moving it forward in both chambers,” Nunn said.

Dozens of activists, many of them suffering from serious medical conditions, crowded a committee room urging passage of the bill.  

Oskaloosa Republican Guy Vander Linden thanked the activists for their testimony.

“It’s been educational for me,” Vander Linden said.  “It’s very touching to hear what some of the things folks are living with.”   

A three member bipartisan panel sent the bill to the full Commerce Committee, which approved it with a second bipartisan vote of 17 to 6.   

Vander Linden says he looks forward to bringing the bill to the floor of the House.   Republican leaders in the House are less enthusiastic, pointing out that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Under the revised bill, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and some cancers are covered, and manufacture and distribution would be limited to two locations.

Running the bill through the Commerce Committee may avoid possible opposition in the Public Safety committee, where drug-related bills are usually considered.