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DES MOINES --  Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday he expects the issue of whether to extend the state’s limited medical cannabis law beyond its July 1 expiration date will be the subject of legislative discussions during the 2017 session.

Branstad said he is open to considering some expansion of a 2014 law that parents of sick and suffering children say are needed to provide better access to marijuana-derived medicine.

“We don’t want people to lose something they think will be helpful or that has been helpful to members of their families,” the governor said.

At the same time, he said he opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use and does not want to make changes that may bring unintended consequences with them.

Steve Lukan, Iowa’s drug “czar,” said his office is closely monitoring research developments that may win FDA approval and have implications for possible changes to Iowa’s medical cannabis law.

“We’re going to have to find out in the next few months how that’s going to play out. We’re waiting for results like many others,” he said.

Branstad said he also would be willing to look at medical cannabis production options other state’s have undertaken but only under “a very controlled circumstance.” Current Iowa law -- set to expire July 1, 2017 -- allows Iowa residents to possess and use up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol, a derivative of the marijuana plant, for the sole purpose of treating intractable epilepsy and its side effects.

Appointments

Bruce Lehrman of Cedar Rapids, founder and CEO of Involta, a national provider of IT intelligence and end-to-end infrastructure, was appointed to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Monday by Gov. Terry Branstad. Nicholas Chilcoat of Clive also was appointed to the board. Their appointments are effective immediately, are unpaid and subject to Senate confirmation.

Branstad also appointed Todd Jacobus of West Des Moines to the Emergency Response Commission and Dan Bunnell of Grinnell and Ann Young of Centerville to the Judicial Nominating Commission. Their appointments are effective immediately and unpaid, but not subject to Senate confirmation.

Youth poll

 Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is organizing a youth straw poll for the 2016 elections. It will take place in participating schools on Nov. 1, one week before Election Day. Votes will be tallied on the presidential race and Iowa’s U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.

Results will be published by the Secretary of State’s office. Roughly 200 schools across Iowa already have registered to participate in the straw poll, which is meant to inspire students to participate in civics, according to Pate’s office.

The straw poll is part of the Secretary of State’s Elections 101 curriculum, which is free and available to all Iowa high schools. The program provides guidance for teachers to instruct high school students on elections in Iowa. A list of schools participating in the youth straw poll can be found at elections101.org, and schools can register for the program by visiting the Secretary of State’s website sos.iowa.gov.

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