Iowa State Senate Advances Medical Marijuana Reform Bill

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Iowa lawmakers passed a bill this week to tweak the state’s medical marijuana program, and now the measure now awaits the governor’s signature.

State senators passed the measure late Wednesday, according to local television station KCCI. In March, the Iowa House of Representatives passed the reform measure by a vote of 52 to 46, though amendments have subsequently been tacked on to the measure. 

If the bill were to become law, it would change the THC cap to 4.5 grams per patient over a 90-day period—a provision that drew pushback from some Democratic lawmakers. 

“I’ve had a couple of patients tell me if we pass legislation that limits it to the 50 milligrams per day, which is the 4.5 grams per 90 days, they will probably drop off the program — and they’ll have to have something for pain relief, so they’ll go back on their opioid medications,” Democratic state House Rep. John Forbes said in March. 

But the measure would also permit physicians to disregard the cap for patients who are terminally ill. Additionally, the legislation would broaden the authority for physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to patients by adding the likes of post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions, while also changing “chronic” pain to “untreatable” pain on the list of qualifying conditions.

Whether or not Iowa’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, signs off on the bill remains to be seen—though recent history may suggest that the measure’s prospects aren’t too bright. Last year, Reynolds vetoed a bill that passed the legislature that also aimed to expand the medical marijuana program.

Polling indicates that Reynolds may be out of step with her constituents on this particular issue. A survey from the Des Moines Register in March found that a majority of 53 percent of Iowans support legalizing recreational marijuana use. The same poll showed that 81 percent were in favor of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program.

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