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Medical cannabis for those in need

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 11:56 a.m. CDT

Interesting that one of my last votes in the Iowa Senate would be to legalize medical cannabis oil for mostly children with a variety of medical problems. 

Yet, the case has been made by the parents of many children who suffer daily, when research and established precedent from other states show that cannabis oil, strictly controlled and when prescribed by a medical doctor, will not only save lives, but help in making some more bearable.

A prime example is those who suffer from epileptic seizures.  A strain of cannabis oil has helped Australians with coping with their medical malfunctions. 

Should we take the step in Iowa, and set aside that social stigma and adopt legislation that some claim is nothing other than the “camel’s nose under the tent?” 

I would hope Iowans would understand that to allow marijuana for medical purposes has absolutely nothing to do with what the state of Colorado did by their legalizing the sale and use of marijuana. 

Apples and oranges! 

The legislature ends in about two weeks, and Thursday of last week we were advised that a “Leadership Bill” would most likely start in the Senate, and from all indications, the bill would pass for legalizing cannabis oil for medical situations. 

Not that public polls should dictate what the legislative branch of government does, but the Des Moines Register’s poll of March 3, 2014, showed 59 percent of Iowans backed the legalizing of medical marijuana.  That was a surprise to me, for I thought Iowans, with their generally more conservative views, would at least be split on the issue. 

The poll showed 39 percent opposing, with the remainder indifferent.  That’s a landslide!

With a majority of both parties willing to support legislation to decriminalize medical cannabis oil, much can be based on the many hearings and testimony from parents who seek the treatment which can be lifesaving, is non-intoxicating, does not have to be grown in Iowa, and would be under the strict control of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy and under a doctor’s supervision.

As of this writing, 20 other states have legalized medical cannabis.  The proposed Iowa law would allow Iowans to travel to those states where medical cannabis oil is produced, and bring it back to Iowa, where it could legally could be possessed and used for strictly medical purposes. 

The legislation would prevent the criminal prosecution of Iowans for having and using a medicine which can save lives and cannot be used to get “high.”  And, several of the most conservative states in the nation have already approved the model legislation being considered.

Although this is far from being a done deal, a step forward is being taken with a Democrat and Republican leadership bill. 

Once introduced, it would have to go through the committee process, and if approved there, move to the floor of the respective chambers for consideration by both bodies.  As always, it takes 26 votes in the Senate and 51 votes in the House to pass a bill. 

Then, the legislation only becomes law if the governor signs it.  The next two weeks will reveal where your state government stands on this issue.

• • •

During the session, call me at 515-281-3371; write me at the Senate, Capitol Bldg., Des Moines, 50319; or e-mail dennis.black@legis.iowa.gov  I value your thoughts and opinions.

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