Iowa Board Backs Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Source The Iowa Pharmacy Board voted unanimously Wednesday (Feb. 17) to recommend the Legislature legalize marijuana for medical use in Iowa.

In a 6-0 vote Wednesday, the board also called for lawmakers to change the classification of marijuana to a Schedule II drug.  Such drugs have the potential for abuse but also have accepted medical uses.

The board’s action makes it the first in the nation to take such a stance on marijuana.

There are now 14 states in which medical marijuana is legal.

The board originally rejected the idea out of hand, but a judge ordered the board to take a closer look.

After several public input meetings (read testimonies here) held around Iowa, the board met to make its final recommendation. Some board members said earlier in the day that they were not convinced of the arguments supporting legalization, but the final vote was 6-0 in favor of recommending legalization.

The recommendation could lead to doctors in Iowa being able to prescribe marijuana to some patients.

Board members said they don’t expect the Legislature to take immediate action during a shortened session that likely will end by late March.

From the Des Moines Register:

Iowa pharmacy board opens door for medical marijuana

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously this afternoon to recommend legislators reclassify marijuana in a way that could open the door to medical uses.

The board recommended that legislators reclassify the drug from Schedule I, for which there are no permitted uses, to Schedule II, which could allow medical uses.

The board also recommended the state set up a broad task force, including patients, medical professionals and law enforcement officers, to come up with a way to safely implement a medical marijuana program.

Marijuana proponents cheered after the vote was taken, but they acknowledged that hurdles remain before the drug could become available to patients.

“This is a big thing. This is momentum,” said Carl Olsen, one of the measure’s main Iowa proponents. He said he didn’t expect legislators to consider the matter until next year’s legislative session.

The vote came after a morning of discussion in which the six board members appeared split on whether medical marijuana would be a good idea.

Vice Chairwoman Susan Frey, a Villisca pharmacist, said marijuana clearly has benefits for some patients. But she said current pharmaceutical medications based on marijuana offer the same benefits. She raised the specter of problems in California and other states that have let people smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. “I think without adequate controls, we would have mayhem,” she said.

Board Chairman Vernon Benjamin, a Fort Madison pharmacist, said he doesn’t believe marijuana is more likely to cause addiction than alcohol or prescription narcotics can. He also said the attraction of marijuana to young people probably is enhanced by the fact that it’s illegal.

A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released this week found that 64 percent of Iowans support allowing patients to use marijuana if their doctors approve.
The Pharmacy Board previously expressed reservations about medical marijuana. But proponents sued, and a judge ruled last year that the board had to consider the matter.

The board last fall held a series of hearings around the state, at which most speakers spoke in favor of medical marijuana.

Board staff members noted a decades-old section of Iowa law giving the board authority to set up rules allowing medical uses of marijuana. But several board members said they thought the Legislature or a broad advisory panel should decide the matter.

Medical marijuana bills in the Legislature are considered dead for the year, but proponents hope the pharmacy board’s vote will give the issue momentum next year.

A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released this week found that 64 percent of Iowans support allowing patients to use marijuana if their doctors approve.

From Radio Iowa:

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is recommending state lawmakers reclassify marijuana for medical use. With one member absent, six members of the board voted unanimously to ask legislators to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule One drug, for which there are no permitted uses, to a Schedule Two drug, which allows for medical uses.

Board chair Vernon Benjamin, a pharmacist from Fort Madison, says declaring marijuana legal for medical purposes may help researchers determine the healing effects of the drug.

“It’ll change it into an acceptable medical use so that places that do need to do the research on it are going to have the capability of getting the product and not feeling like they’re going to be breaking the law,” Benjamin said. The Pharmacy Board is asking the legislature to create a task force — that would include patients, medical professionals and law enforcement officers — to come up with a way to safely put in place a medical marijuana program.

Today’s decision follows a series of four public hearings last fall. Around 90% of the people who spoke at those public hearing or sent emails to the Pharmacy Board said they support medical marijuana. Benjamin says that testimony was convincing. “We’re just saying that the medical and scientific evidence that was put forth in those meetings and all the literature we received…that there was a basis for changing the drug so that further research could go on,” Benjamin said.

It’s unlikely the legislature will take action this session. The medical marijuana bills introduced this year died in committee.

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8 thoughts on “Iowa Board Backs Legalizing Medical Marijuana

  1. The police know they are getting screwed out of a lot a lot of money when it’s illegal. ya they may catch a few people but if they taxed it the law makers who control the cops know they could make even more cash.

    So keeping it illegal is good for criminals and drug addicts, and bad for politicians, doctors and people who really need medicine.

    The only real people who want it illegal are the old wanker hick farmers that have been brainwashed by ancient propaganda.

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  2. it’s only a plant, ya some people don’t handle it as well as other’s, but it is way safer than alchohol and it’s MEDICINE!!!!!!

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  3. legal lize this shit already damn it half the people in the world smoke weed what the big deal it doesnt cause any long term harm to your body and everyone loves doing it so why put someone in jail for something they love to do its contridicting it would like us puttin people in jail for riding 4 wheelers or drinking alot my point has been stated everyone loves smoking weed if its no legalized within the next 5 years i have no faith left in humanity

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