Iowa is one of the handful of conservative states that have implemented a law allowing patients with epilepsy to possess CBD oil, made from low-THC strains of cannabis. However, their law – which was signed into effect in 2014 – has a sunset date, which means it will no longer be effective after July 1st of 2017. At the end of the last legislative session, lawmakers attempted to come to an agreement on how to proceed, however, a bill that would have continued allowing the possession of the medicine – but would also have continued to put patients and caregivers at risk because they would have to bring the oil in from a state where it is made legally – was eventually denied for that reason.
“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.”
One lawmaker, Representative Clel Baudler, will be introducing a plan that would continue to allow patients with epilepsy to possess CBD oil as well as creating a structure for in-state production, allowing patients legal access to the medicine within their own state. One of the biggest problems with these laws, aside from the fact that they help such a small number of the people who could benefit from medical marijuana, is the fact that many states do not create safe and legal access – so while patients can legally have the oil in their possession, they can still be arrested for obtaining it in the first place.
“We’re kind of under the gun right now, and we need to act,” said Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat from Urbandale who has advocated for expanded access to medical marijuana. “The people that are currently accessing the medication will be breaking Iowa law as of July 1, and we can’t allow that to happen.”
It seems that they are planning to take up the issue as soon as the 2017 legislative session starts, in hopes of ensuring that there is no disruption for the patients medicating under the current law. They will have to come up with something before the start of July, which may not seem like a lot of time, but at least they are looking at this as an opportunity to expand the law, rather the simply renewing it. After all, there is always room for improvement, but in this particular state, there is a lot of room for improvement and starting with a way for patients to make legal, in-state purchases for their medicine is a major step forward.