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Iowa lawmakers should pass medical cannabis bill

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As the Iowa Legislature embarks on the final days of this session, we call upon them to pass a comprehensive compassionate medical cannabis law. We remind them of the 80 percent of Iowans who want a bill to pass that will help the thousands who are sick and suffering and need access to this medical treatment. We call upon the 150 men and women who were elected by the residents of their communities across this state to pass a bill before they adjourn.

The time is now. Twenty three states have laws that allow for compassionate use of medical cannabis. Many people are desperate to access this treatment and have exhausted all other medical options. Some of the FDA-approved medications we and others have used are short-lived, ineffective, or dangerous. Some of the side effects of the medications for epilepsy are long term and dangerous. The time is now to pass a bill and give Iowan’s access.

As a person living with intractable epilepsy and the father of a teenage boy with intractable epilepsy, we have seen and experienced the suffering. We understand the medical research and are familiar with the numerous success stories. We know what access to medical cannabis means to epilepsy patients and we understand what it means for the other debilitating medical conditions it’s been proven to treat. We know that while it might not help all of us, it can certainly help some. What we don’t understand is a legislator’s lack of compassion that allows people to continue to suffer.

The legislature has the ability to do something about this. We need the Iowa House to take the next step and move the bill sitting in the Ways and Means Committee. We need to have the ability to grow, manufacture, and distribute medical cannabis in Iowa. Medicine grown in Iowa soil, tested in our labs, and made available in our state for the people of Iowa can decrease the costs for those who need it. We need legislators to do their job for the people they represent.

This is a positive solution to a problem that negatively affects the health and quality of life of thousands of Iowans. The solution is passing a law that allows doctors to recommend cannabis for their patients.

If Iowa does not pass legislation this session, one of three things will happen: Iowa’s most vulnerable population will continue to suffer; patients, caregivers, and loved ones will move out of the state to where they can legally sustain their medical needs; or they will break the law. Patients and families shouldn’t have to feel and act like criminals in order to obtain and possess medicine that works to treat debilitating medical conditions, medicine that millions of people in this country already have access to. We didn’t choose this life, and we certainly don’t want legislators choosing our treatment options. Please leave that to our medical teams.

It’s time for Iowa to address this problem! We call upon legislators to do their job or don’t come back. The people of Iowa are counting on you.

• Patrick Loeffler is president of the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Building Trades Council. Dale Todd is legislative chairman of the Iowa Epilepsy Council.

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