New Bipartisan Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act Filed


Iowa rep­re­sen­ta­tives Tedd Gassman, Lar­ry Sheets, Ron Jor­gensen, Char­lie McConkey, Scott Ourth, and Mary Lynn Wolfe

A new bipar­ti­san med­ical cannabid­i­ol act has been filed in the Iowa House, HF 2097, by three Iowa House Repub­li­cans, Tedd Gassman (R. Scarville), Lar­ry Sheets (R. Moul­ton), Ron Jor­gensen (R. Sioux City), and three Iowa House Democ­rats, Char­lie McConkey (D. Coun­cil Bluffs), Scott Ourth (D. Ack­worth), and Mary Lynn Wolfe (D. Clin­ton).

As many of us know, Iowa cre­at­ed a Med­ical Cannabid­i­ol Act in 2014. Cannabid­i­ol has got­ten a lot of atten­tion recent­ly, includ­ing a U.S. Sen­ate Cau­cus on Inter­na­tion­al Nar­cotics Con­trol hear­ing co-chaired by Iowa Sen­a­tor Charles Grass­ley and Cal­i­for­nia Sen­a­tor Diane Fein­stein in 2015. Cannabid­i­ol (“cannabis oil”) was includ­ed in the Iowa Repub­li­can Par­ty state plat­form in 2014.

As crit­ics have point­ed out, there are two prob­lems with the Med­ical Cannabid­i­ol Act. First, it expires on July 1, 2017. Sec­ond, it does not pro­vide any means of access. Pro­po­nents have called it a decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill, but exam­ples of decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bills that require a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from a spe­cial­ist in neu­rol­o­gy and an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card from the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health are just impos­si­ble to find. This law uses the word “med­ical” which just doesn’t make any sense. Decrim­i­nal­iza­tion means it’s still a crime and we’re just reduc­ing the penal­ties or pro­vid­ing an exemp­tion. Legal­iza­tion is the term we use for things that are not crimes. It would be hard to imag­ine that we are now using the word “med­ical” to describe some­thing we are only decrim­i­nal­iz­ing. If we con­tin­ue down this path, we’re going to ren­der lan­guage mean­ing­less. Of course, this law could have been inten­tion­al­ly writ­ten poor­ly to invoke exact­ly these kinds of objec­tions, so there may be a method to the legislature’s mad­ness.

Dis­cus­sions were held by the leg­is­la­ture in 2014 and one of the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Cannabid­i­ol Imple­men­ta­tion Study Com­mit­tee on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2014, was to grow the cannabis to make the cannabid­i­ol, which would have solved the prob­lem of lack of access. The three rec­om­men­da­tions were:

  • Devel­op a reg­u­lat­ed pro­gram to pro­duce, process, and dis­pense med­ical cannabis and fur­ther rec­om­mend that med­ical cannabis not be taxed by the state at any stage of pro­duc­ing, pro­cess­ing, or dis­pens­ing the med­ical cannabis.
  • Resched­ule mar­i­jua­na from a sched­ule I con­trolled sub­stance to a sched­ule II con­trolled sub­stance.
  • Fur­ther inves­ti­gate access, stan­dard­iza­tion, and legal­iza­tion of cannabid­i­ol.

My last blog post on Jan­u­ary 23, 2016, Iowa Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors File Mar­i­jua­na Reclas­si­fi­ca­tion Bill, explained how the Iowa Sen­ate has been try­ing to change the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of mar­i­jua­na. Repub­li­cans in the Iowa Sen­ate have a straight for­ward approach, fil­ing a stand-alone mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing bill (SF 2025). Democ­rats in the Iowa Sen­ate, on the oth­er hand, have tried to attach mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing to a med­ical mar­i­jua­na bill that doesn’t have strong Repub­li­can sup­port in the Iowa House (SF 484) and a syn­thet­ic mar­i­jua­na bill that had strong sup­port in the Iowa House (HF 567) until the Iowa Sen­ate Democ­rats attached a mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing amend­ment to it. Both SF 484 and HF 567 seem dead now. Iowa Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bruce Hunter has recent­ly filed a bill sim­i­lar to SF 484, but with­out mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing (HF 2087). Anoth­er syn­thet­ic mar­i­jua­na bill with­out mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing has been filed in the Iowa House (HF 2049) to replace HF 567.

There is a good rea­son why SF 2025 is the best approach to mar­i­jua­na sched­ul­ing in Iowa. When our law was writ­ten in 1971, the leg­is­la­ture real­ized it did not have the exper­tise to sched­ule con­trolled sub­stances and they gave the respon­si­bil­i­ty of rec­om­mend­ing an appro­pri­ate sched­ule to the Iowa Board of Phar­ma­cy. State v. Bon­jour, 694 N.W.2d 511, 514 (Iowa 2005) (“That pro­ce­dure is to defer to the Board of Phar­ma­cy Exam­in­ers, which is far bet­ter equipped than this court — and the leg­is­la­ture, for that mat­ter — to make crit­i­cal deci­sions regard­ing the med­ical effec­tive­ness of mar­i­jua­na use and the con­di­tions, if any, it may be used to treat.”). In 2010, the Iowa Board of Phar­ma­cy rec­om­mend­ed that mar­i­jua­na be resched­uled from a sched­ule 1 con­trolled sub­stance to a sched­ule 2 con­trolled sub­stance in Iowa. Repub­li­cans are fol­low­ing the law. I don’t want to be too crit­i­cal of the Democ­rats, because they have tried to attach mar­i­jua­na resched­ul­ing to oth­er bills as amend­ments. But, the Repub­li­cans work­ing on this issue are def­i­nite­ly fol­low­ing the let­ter of the law.

So, you might ask, what does HF 2097 have to do with any of this? HF 2097 does three things.

  • It makes the Med­ical Cannabid­i­ol Act per­ma­nent by remov­ing the July 1, 2017, expi­ra­tion date.
  • It replaces the word “neu­rol­o­gist” with the word “physi­cian” which makes it eas­i­er to find a doc­tor to make the rec­om­men­da­tion.
  • It replaces the word “epilep­sy” with the phrase “debil­i­tat­ing med­ical con­di­tion” and adds two more med­ical con­di­tions.

What HF 2097 does not do is pro­vide access to cannabid­i­ol. It will still be ille­gal to make it or dis­trib­ute it. It also has no mech­a­nism for the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health to add more med­ical con­di­tions. Although these are seri­ous prob­lems, this is def­i­nite­ly an improve­ment over the 2014 ver­sion. Pos­ses­sion, man­u­fac­ture, and dis­tri­b­u­tion of cannabid­i­ol are fed­er­al crimes, but it’s fair­ly estab­lished by now that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is not pros­e­cut­ing patients or doc­tors who rec­om­mend cannabid­i­ol (and whole cannabis in some states). This pro­pos­al would be anoth­er step in the right direc­tion.

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5 Responses to New Bipartisan Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Act Filed

  1. Can whitvers amend­ment be added?

    • Carl Olsen says:

      If you are mak­ing argu­ments based on law and order, its very impor­tant that you stay in order and not take things out of order. This is a pub­lic blog, so you’ve just used a term to describe some­thing that most peo­ple don’t under­stand. Sen­a­tor Whitver’s amend­ment was nev­er filed, so there is no pub­lic record of it and no way for any­one to under­stand what it is. My ideas are not my ideas, and they are not Sen­a­tor Whitver’s ideas. The law is just what it says. It was prob­a­bly someone’s idea, but it’s not my idea or Sen­a­tor Whitver’s idea.

      So, for peo­ple who have no idea what your ques­tion is, we have to under­stand what Sen­a­tor Whitver was think­ing. I met with Sen­a­tor Whitver and Sen­a­tor Schnei­der on April 15, 2015, the day the Iowa Sen­ate vot­ed 44–0-6 to resched­ule mar­i­jua­na from sched­ule 1 to sched­ule 2 in Iowa. I asked Sen­a­tor Whitver to file an amend­ment remov­ing mar­i­jua­na from fed­er­al sched­ule 1. Sen­a­tor Whitver had my amend­ment draft­ed by the Leg­isla­tive Ser­vices Agency but he told me he could not get a con­sen­sus from the oth­er sen­a­tors to sup­port it.

      So, what you are ask­ing now is whether HF 2097 should be amend­ed by remov­ing mar­i­jua­na from fed­er­al sched­ule 1.

      Your amend­ment would not be in order. States that have not removed mar­i­jua­na from their own state sched­ule 1 do not send the cor­rect mes­sage to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. If the state thinks mar­i­jua­na should remain in sched­ule 1, then that sends the mes­sage that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should retain mar­i­jua­na in fed­er­al sched­ule 1. This is exact­ly what the state of Wash­ing­ton did in the fed­er­al resched­ul­ing peti­tion now pend­ing with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Most peo­ple expect that peti­tion to be denied, but do not men­tion that the state that filed it is so incon­sis­tent that it has mar­i­jua­na list­ed in its own state sched­ule 1.

      So, the answer to your ques­tion is a def­i­nite no. The state has to agree to remove mar­i­jua­na from state sched­ule 1 before noti­fy­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to remove it from fed­er­al sched­ule 1.

      This ques­tion does reveal some­thing we need to think about. Peo­ple don’t know any­thing about the con­trolled sub­stances act and how sub­stances are sched­uled and yet they talk about it as if they do. It’s crit­i­cal to learn some­thing about the top­ic before hav­ing a dis­cus­sion about it.

  2. Carl Olsen says:

    This goes deep­er than just Iowa. Not one state has noti­fied the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment that mar­i­jua­na has accept­ed med­ical use in the Unit­ed States. Instead, they just allow the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to main­tain an out­dat­ed clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Being a fed­er­al crim­i­nal may be a small thing to some­one who is in med­ical need and the chances of being arrest­ed are slim, but it def­i­nite­ly does not make any sense. States like Col­orado set a poor exam­ple by refus­ing to take on fed­er­al sched­ul­ing. Here is a quote from the Col­orado Supreme Court — June 15, 2015 — The supreme court holds that under the plain lan­guage of sec­tion 24–34-402.5, 13 C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s “law­ful activ­i­ties statute,” the term “law­ful” refers only to 14 those activ­i­ties that are law­ful under both state and fed­er­al law. No. 13SC394, Coats v. Dish Net­work, 2015 CO 44.

  3. Jordan Brown says:

    It sounds promis­ing before read­ing fur­ther into the specifics. Con­sid­er­ing this act any more than a limp for­ward would be wrong. Chang­ing the lan­guage of exist­ing SF 484 is not progress. The peo­ple of this state are in need of whole plant med­i­cine, not an addi­tion to an already bro­ken view­point. I stand by any­thing that would sup­port med­ical cannabis, but limp­ing along while oth­er states make huge strides dai­ly? It just feels wrong to sup­port it.

    • Carl Olsen says:

      This is not an amend­ment to SF 484. It’s a new bill. SF 484 is still pend­ing in the Iowa House. I can agree with your char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of HF 2097 as a limp for­ward, but let’s not agree that this bill replaces the oth­er one. Both bills are still pend­ing.

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