IOWA LEGISLATURE

Iowa legislative proposals would raise medical cannabidiol THC cap to as much as 25 grams

A tincture of cannabidiol (CBD) with a ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Coralville, Iowa, on Thursday, Nov. 28, 20
A tincture of cannabidiol (CBD) with a ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Coralville, Iowa, on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Legislation to increase the THC level in medical cannabis to as much as 25 grams over a 90-day period has been proposed in the Iowa House and Senate.

A bill that moved out of a House public safety subcommittee Tuesday would set a limit of 4.5 grams for 90 days, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, is aiming higher.

“I’m going for the gusto,” said Zaun, who proposed a cap of 25 grams to replace the current 3 percent THC limit on medical cannabidiol. However, he conceded it’s unlikely the Legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds will go along with his proposal, Senate Study Bill 3136.

House Public Safety Committee Chairman Jarad Klein, R-Keota, believes House Study Bill 653 has a better chance of winning the support of lawmakers and the governor, who last year vetoed an attempt to expand Iowa’s medical cannabidiol law.

“We know that 25 is too high,” Klein said. “We know that 4.5 may be too low for some people, so we’re going to see if there is a middle ground to be found.”

He’s looking for a recommendation from the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board, which meets Friday, to give his committee some indication of a sweet spot between 4.5 grams and 25 grams.

Based on conversations with the governor, “We know that 25 is not acceptable to her,” Klein said. “We don’t know where she is on 4.5. I know she has publicly made comments in the past that may not be enough. So we’ll see how that conversation goes.”

Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, a pharmacist, agrees that 4.5 grams — 50 milligrams a day — is not enough. It would mean a reduction for some people in the state’s medical cannabidiol program, he told Klein’s subcommittee.

Patients at his pharmacy who are in the medical cannabidiol program tell Forbes they take between 50 and 150 mg a day to control pain. Under the current law, the 3 percent cap is equivalent to about 20 mg a day.

“If the House version passed at 4.5, it would require them to reduce the amount of THC,” Forbes said. “In many cases, they said they would drop out of the program and go back on opioid medication.

“I hope we can find an agreement that doesn’t put patients at risk of having to move back to opioid meds” that can be addictive, he said.

It’s important for the Legislature to act because with marijuana available in Illinois, Iowans can cross the river and “buy basically anything they want,” Forbes said.

“I would prefer to have Iowans purchase it here in Iowa in a more controlled situation,” he said.

At a medical cannabidiol dispensary, a pharmacist or pharmacy technician reviews a patient’s medications because dosing may have to be adjusted based on the medications they are taking.

“It would be much safer if we can keep people here in the state to purchase their products,” Forbes said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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