CEDAR FALLS — Iowa Rep. Bob Kressig, D-Cedar Falls, has been a strong and vocal advocate for medical cannabis, so he said the Legislature’s last minute action to expand access in Iowa is “the right direction for us to go.”
He pushed to get the state to adopt a law that would allow possession of cannabidiol oil for Iowans with seizures. While it passed in 2014, Kressig has been working since to expand the law.
On the last day of the 2017 session and as the original law was set to expire, Kressig saw legislators vote overwhelming to expand Iowa’s medical cannabis law.
“There are people that I’ve worked with this over the years, and (it’s) just kind of one of those things, you just don’t give up on them,” Kressig said. “I continued that and was able to convince people to vote for it that you never thought would have voted for it. I think that’s the key; we’re seeing a change in people’s concepts.”
Kressig said he is “happy” something got done but also “disappointed” it didn’t go as far as it could have. A more expansive bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a 45-5 vote but couldn’t get through the House.
The legislation would create a system for manufacturing and distributing low-THC medical marijuana oil, which would be available through licensed manufacturers. It would be prescribed to treat several conditions.
But Kressig said one of the most significant steps is the creation of an advisory board to make recommendations to the Legislature on the law based on medical evidence and studies, particularly as it relates to expanding the number of conditions included.
The new bill expanded accepted uses to cover cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS and HIV, Crohn’s disease, ALS and any terminal illness that gives a person a life expectancy of one year or less.
While Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not said if he’d sign the legislation, Kressig said the bill passed in majority-Republican chambers with bipartisan support so he doesn’t expect the governor to veto it.
The Associated Press and the Lee-Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.