Article by: Iowa State Rep. John Forbes
We had some exciting news in the Iowa House last week.
State Rep. Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines) introduced a bill allowing the production, sale and dispensing of cannabidiol oil for certain medical conditions. This could be a major step forward in the effort to legalize medical cannabis for Iowans suffering from a variety of severe medical conditions. It is a measure I have been backing since I was elected to the Iowa General Assembly.
Last session the Iowa Senate passed a medical cannabis bill, but Republicans in the Iowa House failed to bring it to the floor for debate. The introduction of this bill by Rep. Cownie, chair of the House Commerce Committee, may signal a change in Republicans’ willingness to support medical cannabis. The Cownie bill closely resembles the Senate bill from last year with only minor changes. Like the Senate bill, it does not allow for recreational use, nor the smoking of marijuana.
Sally and Steve Gaer of West Des Moines, proponents of medical cannabis, brought their daughter to the news conference last week at the Capitol. Their daughter suffers from severe seizures, and the Gaers say her symptoms have improved markedly since she started using cannabis oil called Charlotte’s Web. The Gaers buy the oil by mail order from a Colorado manufacturer under medical supervision by a Chicago physician. The Gaers and many others have been tireless in seeking legislative approval of medical cannabis. They believe all Iowans who need the medical cannabis should have access to a product produced and sold by Iowans.
Public support for this effort is widespread and bi-partisan. A telephone survey of 1012 Iowans conducted by Quester, a marketing research firm from Windsor Heights and released at the press conference indicates that 76 percent of Iowans surveyed support a medical cannabis law.
Eighty-seven percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Independents and 60 percent of Republicans survey support it. Two-thirds of Iowans surveyed want legislation passed this session. Favorability is consistent across age, gender, income and education.
The bill will be brought through the Commerce Committee, on which I serve. At this point, it is unclear whether the bill will make it through committee and to the House floor for consideration. The House “funnel” deadline is Feb. 19, which means to stay alive, a bill must be passed out of a committee by that date.
As always, I am hopeful we can work through this in a bi-partisan fashion and help Iowans suffering with serious medical conditions.
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