Drug Law

Iowa (Of All States!) Taking Lead in Medical Marijuana Debate

| by NORML

Iowa, America’s breadbasket, home to liberal scion Tom Harkin and conservative contrarian Charles Grassley, is vetting the issue of medical marijuana politically like no other previous state has by conducting a series of public testimonies, convened by the Iowa Pharmacy Board (who was ordered by a Polk County judge to do so in April in response to lawsuits brought by medical marijuana patients in Iowa against the IPB).

Two of the first four public hearings have already happened (August 19 in Des Moines and Sept. 2 in Mason City); the next hearings are:

October 7 in Iowa City and November 4, Council Bluffs

At the Mason City hearing on September 2, eight speakers, all but one in favor of medical marijuana law reforms, spoke out against the prohibition of medical marijuana in Iowa.

Des Moines resident and multiple sclerosis patient Ray Lakers, 42, who was jailed for possessing less than a gram of medical marijuana in 2005, spoke of medical marijuana’s utility and benefit to his life. Conversely, Maedene Sappenfield of Mason City spoke out against it in the Globe Gazette, “I have a son-in-law in North Carolina who has MS and he functions without marijuana very well, so it is possible.”

Watch news video of the Mason City hearing here.

The IPB does not have the authority to legalize marijuana for medical use, but it could suggest to lawmakers to move marijuana to a schedule lower than I. In turn, Iowa lawmakers would have to pass amending legislation. An AP article indicates an interesting legislative challenge (some would say ‘poison pill’): “the [IPB] said that the drug [marijuana] would have to be used as treatment in all states for Iowa to reclassify it.”

Keep up with the legal and legislative struggle to bring medical marijuana to Iowa at: http://blog.iowamedicalmarijuana.org/