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Iowa lawmakers have been working on medical marijuana parameters for some time now.

We hope this is the year they can come up with a logical plan that meets the needs of the people it can help.

Originally, this session’s bill, Senate File 484, was written to allow Iowans with an array of health problems to obtain medical marijuana. Those conditions included cancer, multiple sclerosis, Chrohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic ailments. It would have allowed up to four producers to grow marijuana in Iowa with oversight from the state. It also would have allowed for independent dispensaries to sell the drug.

Changes were made after going through the Commerce Committee, slimming down the health condition requirements and the number of manufacturers. Initially the bill included 12 health conditions that would qualify for the use of cannabidiol, also known as CBD. The changes cut that down to three approved conditions and two manufacturing facilities. The health conditions include intractable epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer if a patient has less than 12 months to live.

Iowa’s current law, enacted in 2014, allows for the use of CBD to treat people who have intractable epilepsy. That law was passed after years of discussion and included gatherings of parents who have children with epilepsy who lobbied hard for the use of medical marijuana within the state.

At first, that was seen as a great victory for proponents of medical marijuana use in Iowa. However, it was soon realized those who met the requirements had to leave the state in order to obtain the drug and were technically breaking federal laws that prohibit the transportation of drugs over state lines.

Gov. Terry Branstad has said he is willing to work with the Legislature on resolving issues with the state’s current law but will reserve his judgment on this bill until he sees its final form.

“We want to make sure that we protect the state against unintended consequences and access to marijuana to people that would be using it for inappropriate or illicit purposes,” he said.

Over the years we have supported further use of potential medicines that have been shown to relieve pain and suffering. Finally, it looked like the state had made some progress on the issue after those lobbying efforts. It turned out the efforts that went into passing the 2014 bill, for all intents and purposes, were for naught.

Our legislators have another chance this year to rectify that embarrassing situation. They should be taking this next opportunity to fix this law – at least so it rises to the spirit it was intended: helping Iowans with painful and debilitating conditions.


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