Iowa House to vote on medical marijuana

By Michael Cummings

cummings@grinnell.edu

Iowans with chronic health issues may soon have a new form of relief made available to them. On Monday, April 17 the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 506, which would legalize medical marijuana for several medical conditions.

The law, which was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support 45-5, allowed for the production and consumption of marijuana for people with HIV, epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other chronic illnesses.

This bill marks a stark departure from Iowa’s current cannabis legislation which allows for the consumption of cannabis oil without THC to treat chronic illnesses. However, current law forbids the production or purchase of the oil in Iowa, so there is no legal way for Iowans to obtain it.

Senators from both sides of the aisle heaped praise on this bill as a long overdue solution to the ailments faced by many Iowans on a daily basis. Yet, the bill will face significant resistance in the House of Representatives. Legislators in the House have expressed concern over the economic viability of the bill, and may choose to instead pass a bill designed to extend the expiration date of the current cannabis oil law, scheduled to become void in July.

While passage of this bill may not be a sure thing, its approval by the Republican-controlled Senate marks a sign of progress, as Republican legislators had previously been totally unwilling to consider such legislation. If SF 506 does not pass this year, it seems more likely than ever that a similar bill may be signed into law in the next few years.