WATERLOO — One Cedar Falls family is upset by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recent veto of a bill expanding Iowa’s medical marijuana law.
Carrie Elser’s daughter, Kylie Elser, has a neurological disorder called Rett syndrome and is chronically sick. Elser said expanded access to medical marijuana could help her daughter manage her pain. A recent high school graduate, Kylie Elser has spent 90 days in the hospital so far this year.
“It’s frustrating that the governor chooses to ignore what the representatives were hearing from their constituents and just decided to do something herself,” said Carrie Elser. She said it’s also frustrating when someone who isn’t a doctor and knowledgeable about the subject is limiting health-care options.
“She deals with a lot of pain,” Elser said of Kylie. “She’s 18 and she has arthritis. She also deals with anxiety due to the medical stress she deals with daily.”
The bill passed by the Legislature in May would have helped many Cedar Valley residents, said Rep. Bob Kressig, D-Waterloo.
On May 26, Reynolds announced she would veto the bill, which replaced the 3% cap on THC in medical marijuana products and instead limited the amount of cannabis a patient could be prescribed to 25 grams over 90 days.
Several Cedar Valley legislators are calling for a special session to override Reynolds’ veto. Kressig, Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, Rep. Ras Smith and Rep. Dave Williams have sent letters to push for the Legislature to meet for a vote to override the veto.
Carrie Elser says the law should be based on patient needs, not politics. She doesn’t know if medical marijuana would make a difference for her daughter, who wants to avoid opioids because they can be addictive.
“We were really hopeful this was going to go and this could be something that could really help us,” Elser said. “We were hoping that we could try (medical marijuana) and that could help instead of using ibuprofen all the time,” she said. “It’s frustrating because these are conversations I would have with my doctor, and we would work together to make an informed decision. Not having that ability is frustrating.”
Elser doesn’t take using medical marijuana lightly, she said. “We’d be very careful about what we’re doing.”
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Kressig has worked to change Iowa’s medical marijuana laws since 2014.
The people who helped formulate this bill are scientists, Kressig said. “Prior to the 1970s almost all of our pharmaceuticals were plant based. Because of the war of drugs they went to these synthetics. What we have seen since is that there are harmful effects to the human body.”
Over the last year Kressig worked with bipartisan support to make the bill a reality.
“The governor’s last-minute veto was devastating to Iowans suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, who worked for years to pass this legislation,” said Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, a pharmacist, in a news release. “But, because they lived in Iowa, some died without access to effective medicines. Enough is enough. The 96 members of the Iowa House and the 40 members of the Iowa Senate who voted to help these Iowans must stand up and defend their votes.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, has called meeting to override the veto “ill-advised.”
The bill passed the House 96-3 and the Senate 40-7, drawing votes from both sides of the aisle.
Elser hopes legislators will come back into session to override the veto, but she understands it might not happen.
“I know I have a really good ally in Bob Kressig,” Elser said. “He’s on top of it. I don’t see him just giving up.”
She hopes other legislators join Kressig.
“This is my daughter’s life; she’s not going to get a redo,” Elser said. “Every opportunity lost is that’s a year of life gone that she’s going to have less quality of life. (Legislators) might want to take more time to make the decision, but she’s lost her childhood already.”