Since early in the legislative session, the talk of medical marijuana in Iowa has mostly centered around a bill introduced in the House that aims to increase access to CBD oil for a number of patients – but we all know how little CBD laws really do in the grand scheme of things compared to a comprehensive medical marijuana program. As it turns out, the Senate has been working on their own bill, Senate File 506, which they passed this week with an overwhelmingly favorable vote of 45-5, sending the bill over to the House for consideration.
“Let’s do the right thing for the people out there who are suffering,” said Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale.
If passed, Senate File 506 would allow patients with a qualifying condition and written recommendation from a physician to register for an ID card that would allow them to purchase medical marijuana at any state licensed dispensary. Conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana include cancer, AIDS/HIV, glaucoma, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, intractable pain and a number of other debilitating conditions (as well as additional conditions that a doctor decides could benefit from cannabis therapy).
The bill passed in the senate would also create a total of 4 cultivation facilities and at least a dozen dispensaries to be licensed throughout the state for patients to be able to buy their medical cannabis legally. It would also create a new penalty for anyone caught abusing the medical marijuana system in order to consume cannabis recreationally – and it also does not allow the sale or use of “marijuana cigarettes” as another way to reduce potential abuse of the new law.
“A lot of people say, ‘Why is this taking so long?’ Well, the reason why is education. A lot of us have learned about the benefits of cannabis. I beg our House colleagues to do the right thing,” Zaun said.
Patients have been waiting a long time for medical marijuana laws to come to Iowa, and unfortunately this bill is the first truly compassionate and helpful bill to be passed in either chamber – but it doesn’t stand much of a chance in the Republican run House that is aiming for a much more conservative law to be passed. However, lawmakers in the Senate admit that it took them time to learn about the benefits of cannabis to be ready to pass this legislation – and they are urging the members of the House to do the same before voting on this bill, which has the support of nearly 80% of Iowan voters.