Weigel: Recreational marijuana makes economic sense

With Iowa being in bad shape financially, expanding the legality of marijuana in the state could be the solution.

Setting aside prejudice and stereotypes, it makes economic sense to legalize recreational marijuana in Iowa. Given that Iowa is currently in the midst of a bit of a budgetary quandary, it would make sense to try to raise more funds by taxing the sale of marijuana instead of raising other taxes.


Sessions wants flexibility to prosecute Iowa medical marijuana programs

The federal government’s top attorney wants the freedom to prosecute states — such as Iowa — with medical marijuana programs, according to a letter made public last week.

But Iowa officials insist the state’s newly expanded program, which now includes the opportunity for two businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis, will remain safe from federal scrutiny.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on May 1 wrote a letter to congressional leaders opposing a mechanism in the federal budget that prohibits the Department of Justice from using its resources to prosecute states that establish medical marijuana laws.


Iowa looks to team up with Minnesota for medical marijuana

Top state lawmakers are trying to work out a system allowing Iowa residents to start buying medical marijuana oils and pills in Minnesota, a novel arrangement that could raise issues with the federal government.

Iowa could join more than two dozen states with medical marijuana programs under a bill awaiting Gov. Terry Branstad's signature. That legislation would expand a limited 2014 law, allowing more patients to buy the low-dose medication from in-state dispensaries by December 2018.

But in the meantime, Iowa residents could look to Minnesota. A provision of the bill specifically references that state as a potential source of medication and directs Iowa regulators to contract with Minnesota's two manufacturers of medical marijuana.


Gov. Terry Branstad signs bill expanding medical marijuana in Iowa

Iowans with certain chronic conditions will soon have better access to treatment from a form of medical marijuana.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed HF 524 into law Friday but noted concerns with the new law in doing so.

Iowa began allowing people with certain chronic conditions to use cannabis oil but that law did not allow for the production or sale of the oil. The new law allows the state to authorize up to two facilities to grow and produce cannabis oil to be sold in five state-approved dispensaries. The law also allows Iowa doctors to prescribe cannabis oil for a list of 15 chronic conditions.

However, in signing the bill, Branstad urged lawmakers to address potential issues with the new law during the next legislative session. Among those concerns:


Medical marijuana advocates say Iowa program too limited

A medical marijuana oil program approved by the Iowa Legislature might not offer much help to patients with qualifying medical conditions, but advocates say it's at least a step in the right direction.

The measure approved by lawmakers in the final hours of the legislative session Saturday would expand a little-used program now only available to people with epilepsy. If signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, the law would allow the limited production of cannabis oil at two locations in Iowa and legalize its use for an additional eight conditions.

Despite the expansion, medical marijuana advocates said the decision to cap the level of the active ingredient and limit the means of ingestion means the program has limited value.


The strange Iowa political trip for medical marijuana

Iowans overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but they don't support allowing recreational uses, a new Iowa Poll shows.

Two state senators, one Republican and one Democratic: One voted in favor of the medical cannabis bill that passed in the final hours of the legislative session, one voted against it. Both are unhappy.

In a legislative session that tended to defy prediction, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that medical marijuana was the issue that kept lawmakers up all night as they tried to adjourn. It created odd, bipartisan political alliances as well as conflicts among lawmakers who support medical marijuana.


Iowa legislature poised to approve broader medical marijuana law

Early this morning, legislators announced an agreement to expand Iowa’s soon-to-expire law that merely decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy.

“There are sick Iowans out there who need relief,” Representative Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota, told reporters during a news conference on the House floor at around 3 a.m.

Klein has been the point person in House negotiations on the bill.

“I ran the original bill on the floor that got this to the kids that have intractable epilepsy. I have a constituent that suffers from that and I’ve heard the positive results,” Klein said. “That just reassured me of taking the next step.”


Medical marijuana bill on fast track in Iowa Senate

An Iowa Senate subcommittee meets Wednesday to discuss a bill to legalize the production and sale of medical marijuana in Iowa.(Photo: William Petroski/Des Moines Register)Buy Photo

Legislation authorizing the use of medical marijuana is quickly moving through the Iowa Senate with the goal of providing help for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and a host of other ailments.


States Push Marijuana Legalization Bills Despite Opposition from the Federal Government

Lawmakers in about two dozen states have proposed bills this year to ease their marijuana laws despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' warning that he could crack down on pot, a major change from the Obama administration, which essentially turned a blind eye to the state legislation.

Bills have been introduced in 17 states this year to make recreational pot legal for adults, while five others are considering voter referendums on the issue. Sixteen states have introduced medical marijuana legislation, 10 are considering decriminalizing the drug and three are considering easing their penalties. An effort in Wyoming to decriminalize the drug failed this session.


Iowa House panel approves medical marijuana oil bill

An Iowa House subcommittee approved a bill that would legalize medical marijuana oil and create a state-run program to grow and dispense the product.

People affected by epileptic seizures, multiple sclerosis and cancer spoke Wednesday in support of the bill, telling lawmakers cannabis oil helped them. The GOP-led panel unanimously supported the bill, which now moves to the House public safety committee.

The Iowa Department of Public Health would run the program, and an agency official said it was important participants receive license cards.

Rep. Jared Klein, a Republican from Keota, noted the legislation doesn't legalize recreational marijuana but only allows cannabis oil for medical treatment. He says 28 states have passed similar bills.


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