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Advocates Plead for Medical Marijuana; Senate Committee Approves Bill

Joyce Russell/IPR
Activist Poster at Statehouse News Conference

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. 

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.”