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Gov. Kim Reynolds stands pat on Iowa's medical cannabidiol THC cap

Gov. Kim Reynolds meets with The Gazette's Editorial Board in January 2019 at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids. She is featur
Gov. Kim Reynolds meets with The Gazette’s Editorial Board in January 2019 at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids. She is featured this morning on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS World. The show also can be seen online. (Gazette file photo)

JOHNSTON — Iowa lawmakers have been calling for Gov. Kim Reynolds to send them a clear signal on how far she’s willing to go to expand the state’s medical cannabidiol law.

Reynolds seemed to do that Friday, although it may not have been what they want to hear.

“I’m comfortable with where the board ended up,” Reynolds said about the recommendation earlier this month by the Medical Cannabidiol Board to cap the use of THC at 4.5 grams over 90 days. THC is the chemical that advocates say provides relief for a multitude of symptom

Reynolds made her comments during taping of the Iowa PBS show “Iowa Press,” which first aired Friday night and can be viewed online.

Committees in both the Iowa House and Senate approved medical cannabidiol proposals this week. Both remove the current 3 percent cap on THC. The House version sets a 4.5 gram cap, but many members of the Public Safety Committee prefer allowing higher dosages.

Committee Chairman Jarad Klein, R-Keota, called that a small step, but “a step in the right direction.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said he was “going for the gusto” by pushing through Senate File 2363 that capped THC at 25 gram. That allows him room to negotiate with the House and the governor, Zaun said.

However, in 2019, Reynolds vetoed legislation that would have limited the amount of medical cannabis a patient could be prescribed at any one time to 25 grams over 90 days.

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Reynolds didn’t signal that she’s looking to split despite people in the medical cannabidiol program calling for higher THC levels and program officials who track THC purchases reporting some patients are purchasing more than 4.5 grams every 90 days.

It was the board’s recommendation the Legislature should use House Study Bill 653 as a template for legislation this year. In addition to the 4.5 gram cap, the board recommended exceptions if a patient’s health care practitioner thinks the patient could benefit from a higher TFC level and waiving the 4.5 gram cap for the terminally ill.

“So I feel like that was a compromise that was made by the cannabidiol board,” Reynolds said. “They’re listening to individuals who are impacted and all of the stakeholders involved in it, and that was what they came back with. I think that’s appropriate and a good place to be.”

Patients in the state medical cannabidiol program told the advisory board earlier this month that while the current THC level provides some relief, higher dosages are needed. In some cases, patients said they are breaking Iowa law to treat their chronic pain. Others said that unless the cap is increased, they may have to go back to using opioids, which can be addictive.

Reynolds signaled that HSB 653 may not be the end of the discussion.

“I think we continue to make progress, and we can continue to evaluate it moving forward,” she said. “So it doesn’t mean that in the future this is where it has to end.”

“Iowa Press” can be seen at 8:30 a.m. today on Iowa PBS World.

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

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