Iowa’s medical cannabidiol program is in tatters, and Republican legislators just ripped another hole in it.
It has been called the worst medical cannabis program in the United States, covering a relatively short list of conditions and imposing extreme restrictions on the types of medicine Iowans are allowed to obtain. Under a bill recently approved by the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature, thousands of Iowans could be cut off from the treatment they need.
One of the biggest problems with Iowa’s cannabidiol law is that the cap on tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC, a compound in marijuana that makes users “high” but also has therapeutic benefits — is far too low. But House File 2589 would make it even worse, by replacing the existing 3 percent cap on THC with a monthly 4.5-gram limit for each patient.
More than 2,000 Iowans in the medical cannabis program would be forced to reduce their legal THC consumption, according to figures circulated by legislative Democrats early in the session. The bill passed the Iowa House in March and passed the Iowa Senate this week. Gov. Kim Reynolds — who last year vetoed a bill with a much higher THC limit — has signaled she supports the bill.
If lawmakers wanted to smother the medical marijuana experiment with overbearing regulations, this would be the way to do it. The industry already is struggling to survive.
State officials confirmed this week that Iowa Relief, one of only two cannabis manufacturers in the state, has relinquished its license after less than a year in operation. In March, dispensaries in Council Bluffs and Davenport closed, leaving patients with just three locations statewide.
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This editorial board and many other advocates have said so repeatedly, but it’s worth saying again: If you take away people’s medicine, they will either suffer or find illegal ways to get it, such as the free state of Illinois right next door.
Iowa might as well put up “closed for business” signs on the borders. And Illinois could post “marijuana sales this way” signs directing patients across the Mississippi River.
Iowa is well behind the nation on this issue. Most states have real medical cannabis programs, giving patients access to whole plant medicine. They’re in blue, purple and red states. Many jurisdictions allow patients to grow their own marijuana plants. Some of these laws have been in place for more than 20 years.
If legalizing medical marijuana was going to lead to some great public health crisis like Iowa Republican apparently fear, it would have happened already.
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