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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.


Pro-Marijuana Student Organization Wins Court Case Over Using School Logos

We've seen stories in the past in which higher educational institutions attempt to slap down students' use of school iconography when it comes to advocating for marijuana legalization. Trademark law is the preferred bludgeoning tool in many of these cases, regardless of whether or not the uses in question actually pass the muster on the tests for Fair Use. Still, at least in most of these cases the schools are at least quick to act and staunch in their attempts to silence a completely valid political position by the student body.


Medical marijuana support keeps climbing, Iowa Poll shows

An increasingly large majority of Iowans from all walks of life favor allowing people to use marijuana for medical purposes, but relatively few Iowans want the drug legalized for recreation, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows.

Eighty percent of Iowa adults now want marijuana legalized for medical purposes, the poll shows. That total is dramatically higher than the 58 percent who favored the idea in a 2013 Iowa Poll, and a bit more than the 78 percent who favored it in a 2016 Iowa Poll.

The new poll shows just 39 percent of Iowans want marijuana legalized for recreational purposes. Although still a minority, that figure represents an increase from the 29 percent who favored such a change in the 2013 Iowa Poll.


Medical cannabis could see movement in Iowa

With Iowa’s limited medical cannabis laws set to expire in July, state legislators and medical marijuana advocates say they see an opportunity to rewrite a more comprehensive set of rules when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, said he plans to propose a bill that would allow for the production and distribution of medical cannabis oil in Iowa — something many other Republicans previously have opposed.

“Last year there was a hodgepodge of panic, if you will, in my caucus to do something. Well if we’re going to do something, let’s do something smart,” Baudler said. “If these people want it grown in Iowa, processed in Iowa, I think we can make that happen.”


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