Medical marijuana

DES MOINES | The Iowa Board of Pharmacy said although its members sympathize with Iowans seeking to legalize medical marijuana to aid those struggling with various ailments, they unanimously denied a petition seeking to change a rule regarding the practice in Iowa.

Board Chairman Edward Maier told the packed hearing room Wednesday morning the board doesn’t have the authority to establish a state medical marijuana program. He said establishing such a program would involve a number of other state departments outside the board’s jurisdiction.

“We do not have the authority as a board to regulate anyone other than pharmacists and pharmacies,” said board member Susan Frey.

Marie La France of Des Moines filed the petition in January so that her son, Quincy, could acquire an oil form of medical cannabis to treat his epilepsy.

Twenty states and Washington, D.C., have established medical marijuana programs.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no medical value.

"If you don't make rules, I will be forced to choose between moving from my home or risking criminalization just to improve my son’s quality of life,” La France said.

Maier said Iowa legislators need to make the decision. The board voted to recommend legislation to the Iowa Legislature on medical marijuana in 2010, but medical marijuana legislation repeatedly has failed over the years.

Gov. Terry Branstad recently said he’s leery of such a program in Iowa.

More than 10 people spoke out in support of the rule change.

La France said in an interview following the board’s decision that she’s in “complete disbelief.”

“I can’t understand how they can listen to all the testimonies of how cannabis can help Iowans and not take any action,” she said.

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