Medical marijuana educational session offers clarity, seeks more from state

Lucas Nelson, general manager of outsourcing services for Kemin Industries, talks in the entrance to MedPharm Iowa in De
Lucas Nelson, general manager of outsourcing services for Kemin Industries, talks in the entrance to MedPharm Iowa in Des Moines on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Any step forward is a step on the right path, some Iowans say, but those involved in the state’s new medical marijuana program think there’s still a long road ahead.

MedPharm Iowa, a manufacturer that soon will be distributing its cannabidiol products in Iowa, hosted an educational session in Iowa City on Wednesday evening on the new medical marijuana program and how patients can best use it.

However, concerns on the sustainability of and access to the program — as raised by officials and some of the handful of attendees at Iowa City’s Environmental Education Center, still are at the forefront.

“We have a voice we’re wanting to use and make sure this program gets better and one way to do that is amplifying the everyday patient who maybe otherwise isn’t being heard,” said Lucas Nelson, general manager of outsourcing services at Kemin Industries, MedPharm Iowa’s lead consultant.

MedPharm is one of two manufacturers licensed by the state to produce medical cannabis for certain certified patients, who will be able to obtain medical cannabidiol beginning Dec. 1.

The company has hosted educational events throughout the state and plans to continue to do so in the coming months. Nelson said events will be hosted in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo in September.

“It’s nice we have an opportunity to talk to these people, because obviously there’s questions out there that aren’t getting answered,” said Rebecca Lucas, business development manager at Kemin.


DalLynn Hotchkiss-McEltree, certified medicolegal death investigator with Tama County Medical Examiner’s Office, treated the session as an introduction to the program, as she was unfamiliar with it and cannabidiol products. She was among the six attendees at Iowa City’s event this week who sought more information on the legality of the program, its restrictions and a range of other questions.

“I think education is paramount,” Hotchkiss-McEltree said.

The interest is encouraging, but some feel the state can do better. To bring Iowa’s program up to the same bar as other states with similar programs, Lucas said Iowa should adjust specific restrictions on the program, such as allowing inhalable forms and expanding the number of conditions that could be certified for medical marijuana.

They also encourage the state to remove or expand the current cap on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive element of marijuana. Products are limited to 3 percent THC, but patients are not limited on the amount of product they can obtain, meaning they will be given more of the product in order to meet a dose appropriate for them.

“We fully support having a workable cap, because no one benefits in this state if this program gets abused,” Nelson said.

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