March 3 is the legislative funnel date

A vari­ety of med­ical cannabis bills have been filed in the Iowa leg­is­la­ture this year. One, HSB 132, has actu­al­ly passed in a Repub­li­can con­trolled sub­com­mit­tee. The end of this week, Fri­day, March 3, 2017, is the fun­nel date when bills have to be passed by a full com­mit­tee to remain eli­gi­ble for fur­ther debate. There are excep­tions to the fun­nel date and amend­ments can be filed to bills that are still viable after the fun­nel date, so don’t be com­plete­ly dis­traught if none of these bills pass­es out of com­mit­tee by Fri­day.

I’m going to describe sev­er­al of the bills by group­ing them by their sim­i­lar­i­ty.

Whole Plant Cannabis

SF 205 and HF 199 are very sim­i­lar. Both bills would allow whole plant cannabis to be grown and used for a vari­ety of med­ical con­di­tions in Iowa. These two bill have only Demo­c­rat cospon­sors and no Repub­li­can cospon­sors. Both bills look sim­i­lar to SF 484 from 2015 which passed by a nar­row par­ti­san vote in a Demo­c­rat con­trolled Iowa Sen­ate in 2015 and then died in a Repub­li­can con­trolled Iowa House in 2016. SF 205 has been assigned to a sub­com­mit­tee in the Repub­li­can con­trolled Iowa Sen­ate. HF 199 has not been assigned to a sub­com­mit­tee in the Repub­li­can con­trolled Iowa House. I’ve reg­is­tered in favor of both of these two bills, SF 205 and HF 199.

Cannabidiol Only

Iowa State Representative Clel Baudler

Iowa State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clel Baudler

I’m guess­ing that the rea­son HF 199 has not been assigned to a sub­com­mit­tee in the Repub­li­can con­trolled Iowa House is prob­a­bly because the Chair of the House Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Safe­ty, Green­field Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clel Baudler, has filed his own med­ical cannabis bill, HSB 132. Chair­man Baudler’s bill actu­al­ly passed by a 3–0 vote in a sub­com­mit­tee on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2017, and Repub­li­cans are say­ing this is the bill that will even­tu­al­ly make it through the full com­mit­tee before the fun­nel date this Fri­day. How­ev­er, the chair of the com­mit­tee, Clel Baudler, now says he will not let the com­mit­tee vote on it, because there are only 4 Repub­li­cans will­ing to vote in favor of it. Rep. Baudler says he will not allow a vote on a bill that only a major­i­ty of Democ­rats will sup­port and the major­i­ty of his par­ty will not sup­port. I’ve reg­is­tered in favor of this bill, HSB 132.


Iowa State Senator Brad Zaun

Iowa State Sen­a­tor Brad Zaun

Final­ly, there are three bills that all have a very unusu­al sim­i­lar­i­ty. SF 282, filed by the chair of the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, Brad Zaun, and HSB 159, and HSB 164, filed by Rep. Baudler, all seem to be filed on behalf of a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny, GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (going by the name of Green­wich Bio­sciences, Inc.). All three of these bills have been assigned to sub­com­mit­tees, but it’s unclear if any of them will be approved by those sub­com­mit­tees. I have reg­is­tered against all three of these bills, SF 282, HSB 159, and HSB 164.

Complaint with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy

It just doesn’t seem appro­pri­ate to me for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny to by lob­by­ing in Iowa for their prod­uct (with­out men­tion­ing the prod­uct by name in the bill) when the usu­al course of action with a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drug is to have a prod­uct approved by the FDA, clas­si­fied as a pre­scrip­tion drug by the DEA, and then approved by the state leg­is­la­ture after the fed­er­al approvals have been com­plet­ed. I’ve filed a com­plaint with the Iowa Board of Phar­ma­cy that will be con­sid­ered at their meet­ing on Wednes­day, March 8, 2017.

Congressman Young and Senator Whitver

Congressman David Young

Con­gress­man David Young

I met with Iowa Con­gress­man David Young and Iowa Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Jack Whitver on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2017, to, among oth­er things, let them know about my com­plaint with the phar­ma­cy board about SF 282. I received a nice post card from Con­gress­man Young fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

Postcard from Congressman Young

Post­card from Con­gress­man Young

Iowa State Senator Jack Whitver

Iowa State Sen­a­tor Jack Whitver


I’m not into con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, but it does seem strange that the bill we were expect­ing, HSB 132, has sud­den­ly lost the sup­port of Chair­man Baudler, and now Chair­man Baudler is spon­sor­ing two crazy bills for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny. A leg­is­la­tor on the sub­com­mit­tee that approved HSB 132 (Rep. Kristi Hager) told a moth­er of a child with epilep­sy (Erin Miller) that

Erin, I know this is a dif­fi­cult place to be. HSB 132 did not pass com­mit­tee so it won’t go any­where at this time.

How­ev­er HSB 164 was intro­duced which essen­tial­ly extends the cannabid­i­ol sun­set. Rep Klein, Kace­na, and myself have been assigned as the sub­com­mit­tee to this.

One of the rea­sons HSB 132 failed is in light of the cur­rent Fed­er­al Law stat­ing “while states can decrim­i­nal­ize mar­i­jua­na, fed­er­al law is clear that a state can­not issue licens­es or oth­er­wise sell mar­i­jua­na.” This bill called for licens­ing fees. Anoth­er con­cern was the use of Carv­er Col­lege of Med­i­cine and Col­lege of Phar­ma­cy for pro­vid­ing the sci­en­tif­ic tri­als with­out the allo­ca­tion of funds to do this. There were oth­er con­cerns around this in assur­ing a uni­form prod­uct, etc.

Thanks again for reach­ing out … Kristi

And then:

Erin, thank you. Your mom also wrote me and men­tioned the need your son has. I added a reminder note to look at an amend­ment to cov­er indi­vid­u­als receiv­ing cannabid­i­ol oil now who may not fall inside the Epid­i­olex guide­lines to allow them to con­tin­ue receiv­ing cur­rent ther­a­py. We’ll have our sub­com­mit­tee I’m guess­ing on Mon­day or Tues­day.

Green­wich Bio­sciences, Inc., is reg­is­tered in sup­port of HSB 159, but has not reg­is­tered any posi­tion on SF 282 or HSB 164. It still looks sus­pi­cious to me. It looks to me like SF 282 and HSB 164 are com­pro­mise posi­tions to HSB 159 intend­ed to keep the Iowa par­ents of chil­dren with epilep­sy in favor of the mod­i­fied ver­sions of the GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal bill. That’s just my per­son­al opin­ion. I have been fol­low­ing this close­ly.

A sci­en­tist who works for GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal helped me win my case with the Iowa Board of Phar­ma­cy in 2010, and that same sci­en­tist was involved in set­ting up clin­i­cal tri­als of the prod­uct here in Iowa with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa med­ical school. Just to be clear, I have noth­ing against GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal. I just don’t sup­port what GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal is try­ing to do with these bills. Not every­one responds well to the GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­uct (which has no THC in it). Cur­rent Iowa law allows for cannabid­i­ol prod­ucts with up to 3% THC in them.


I sup­port sec­tions 2 and 3, of SF 282 and HSB 164, which extend the cur­rent law. If you’re cov­ered now, you would still be cov­ered.

And, I am not opposed to resched­ul­ing Epid­i­olex, either.

What I am opposed to is men­tion­ing fed­er­al sched­ul­ing that has not hap­pened, and may nev­er hap­pen.

Show me proof that Epid­i­olex will ever be sched­uled.

The board has always rec­om­mend­ed the same changes to state sched­ul­ing as the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment makes, but only after the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment actu­al­ly makes the change (not before it).

So, we don’t need a law telling the board to do what it already does.

I see these bills would allow the board to make an emer­gency rule that would be effec­tive until the leg­is­la­ture approves it, but it’s still based on some­thing our state has no con­trol over (whether the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment approves Epid­i­olex, or not).

Anoth­er prob­lem I have is that the bill does not actu­al­ly say Epid­i­olex. Why not? What oth­er prod­ucts are there?

I’m only opposed to the part on fed­er­al sched­ul­ing. We can resched­ule Epid­i­olex right now. Show me a law that says we can’t.

We resched­uled nat­ur­al THC prod­ucts in 2008, and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment still hasn’t approved any. What is that all about?

Iowa Code § 124.208(9)(b) (2017):

Any drug prod­uct in tablet or cap­sule form con­tain­ing nat­ur­al dron­abi­nol (derived from the cannabis plant) or syn­thet­ic dron­abi­nol (pro­duced from syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als) for which an abbre­vi­at­ed new drug appli­ca­tion (ANDA) has been approved by the Unit­ed States food and drug admin­is­tra­tion under sec­tion 505(j) of the fed­er­al Food, Drug, and Cos­met­ic Act and which ref­er­ences as its list­ed drug the drug prod­uct iden­ti­fied in para­graph “a”.

Fed­er­al sched­ul­ing only allows “syn­thet­ic” dron­abi­nol (THC). The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pro­posed resched­ul­ing nat­ur­al dron­abi­nol in 2007.

Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter, Vol. 72, No. 184, Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 24, 2007

This hap­pened again in 2010.

Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter, Vol. 75, No. 210, Mon­day, Novem­ber 1, 2010

But, nei­ther of these pro­posed fed­er­al rules were ever approved.

The list­ing for THC still says only “syn­thet­ic.”

21 C.F.R. § 1308.13(g) (2017):

Hal­lu­cino­genic sub­stances. (1) Dron­abi­nol (syn­thet­ic) in sesame oil and encap­su­lat­ed in a soft gelatin cap­sule in a U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion approved product—7369.
[Some oth­er names for dron­abi­nol: (6aR-trans)-6a,7,8,10a-tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentyl-6H-diben­zo [b,

Obvi­ous­ly, we can resched­ule Epid­i­olex before the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment does. If that’s what we want to do, let’s do it. This non­sense about wait­ing for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is clear­ly a stall tac­tic.

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