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Law Iowa


Well-Known Member
Iowa! Who knew? LOL But it looks like another FL type half effort....no MJ smoking. No taking plant material home to smoke. So, what does this bill authorize....dreaming about MMJ??

Legal medical marijuana passes Iowa Senate on 45-5 vote
A wide-ranging bill authorizing the use of medical marijuana for ailments from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder was passed Monday night by the Iowa Senate, although it's unlikely to win approval in the Iowa House.

Senate File 506 was passed on a 45-5 vote. It would allow for patients with a range of medical conditions to obtain a medical cannabis registration card after receiving written approval from a doctor. The card would enable a patient to obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary in Iowa. It would legalize the production and distribution of medical marijuana in Iowa and would legally reclassify marijuana under state law.

Sen. Thomas Greene, R-Burlington, a pharmacist who was the bill's floor manager, urged support for the measure. He said many ailing Iowans now face the choice of obtaining marijuana illegally or moving to another state. An estimated 12,555 Iowans have medical conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana, he said.

"We want Iowans to know we care about them here," Greene remarked.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, recounted heartbreaking stories of Iowans — some now dead — who have lobbied legislators in support of the bill. He was joined in support by Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, who said it would be ideal if the federal government legalized medical marijuana. But in the absence of federal action, 28 states have enacted patchwork of laws to address the issue, he added.

"In the end, I think this bill strikes the right balance," Schneider said.

Smoking medical marijuana would not be allowed, nor would people be allowed to buy plant material that can be taken home and smoked. But the legislation establishes a framework that should encourage investment by businesses, Schneider said.

No lawmakers spoke against legalizing medical marijuana during the Senate floor debate.

Medical conditions eligible for medical marijuana would include: cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS or HIV, hepatitis C, glaucoma, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, any terminal illness subject to certain conditions, intractable pain, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, complex regional pain syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and any other chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its medical treatment approved by state officials.

But the Senate bill appears to face a major roadblock in House, where there aren't enough votes within the Republican caucus to pass the Senate bill, according to House Republican leaders.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said last week she is not necessarily opposed to allowing marijuana to be grown in Iowa and distributed as a medicinal product within the state’s borders. But she said she and others are trying to consider the economic viability of such a program as well as the implications under federal law. A bill is still alive in the House that would extend the sunset date of the current cannabis oil program and make available a cannabis-based product called Epidiolex once it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, who has had a lead role in drafting medical marijuana legislation in the House, has agreed with Upmeyer that House Republicans favor a more limited approach than offered in the Senate bill. For example, he said he wants to avoid a loosely-regulated system where almost anyone could claim to have an illness in an effort to obtain medical marijuana.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, issued a plea to House members during the debate to consider the Senate bill.

"A lot of people say, 'Why is this taking so long?' Well, the reason why is education. A lot of us have learned about the benefits of cannabis. I beg our House colleagues to do the right thing," Zaun said.

Iowans are now allowed to possess cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. But it's illegal to manufacture or distribute that oil in the state, and federal law prohibits its transportation across state lines. In practice, that makes it illegal for Iowans to obtain the product. The state law allowing cannabis oil was enacted in 2014 but is scheduled to expire in July, leaving no state law in its place.

The five Senate members who voted against the bill Monday night included Democrat Tod Bowman of Maquoketa, and Republicans Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs, Mark Costello of Imogene, Julian Garrett of Indianola and Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point.
Medical marijuana advocates say Iowa program too limited

DES MOINES, Iowa — A medical marijuana oil program approved by the Iowa Legislature might not offer much help to patients with qualifying medical conditions, but advocates say it’s at least a step in the right direction.

The measure approved by lawmakers in the final hours of the legislative session Saturday would expand a little-used program now only available to people with epilepsy. If signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, the law would allow the limited production of cannabis oil at two locations in Iowa and legalize its use for an additional eight conditions.

Despite the expansion, medical marijuana advocates said the decision to cap the level of the active ingredient and limit the means of ingestion means the program has limited value.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, called the program “the worst in the country.”

“For people who were opposed to doing anything, I suppose they think this is a big deal,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that they shouldn’t have put all the conditions in the bill because the medicine isn’t going to provide a therapeutic benefit for eight of the nine conditions, and that’s sad.”

Besides prohibiting smoking, vaporizing or consuming marijuana edibles, the bill limits the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, allowed in the oil to 3 percent. THC is the compound known for psychoactive effects, and by capping it at 3 percent advocates said it limits the oil’s potential to help conditions besides seizures.

Some programs, mainly in conservative states, have caps with even smaller percentages of THC.

Only 38 people have medical cannabis cards under Iowa’s current system, which makes it illegal to manufacture or distribute the oil. It’s unclear how many more would enroll if the new program is signed into law.

Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, a doctor researching cannabinoid medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said some conditions besides seizures could benefit from low-THC oil, but that the benefit is less certain because of the cap.

“It’s an extremely non-scientific regulatory framework for cannabis,” he said. “It’s all politics. This is no way to do medicine.”

Rep. Jared Klein, a key supporter of the legislation, said the program’s limitations stem from the hesitation of House Republicans to legalize any form of marijuana.

“A lot of my caucus said ‘We don’t feel comfortable with this issue at all,’” Klein said.

The bill would also create an advisory board to recommend changes to the cannabis oil program, though Iowa lawmakers would have the final say.

Klein acknowledged an interest in potentially raising the THC level above 3 percent if the medical board recommends it.

“A lot of this boils down to a compromise, and this is not necessarily ... my personal ideal,” he said. “I had to get something I knew we could pass and that I have a high confidence the Governor will sign.”

The conditions covered in the expanded program include: cancer; multiple sclerosis; seizures; HIV or AIDS; Crohn’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; untreatable pain; and any terminal illness with a life expectancy of under a year.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a national lobbying organization, said 29 states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, while 16 offer cannabidiol extract with minimal THC. By the group’s standards, Iowa falls in the second category and is not considered to have a “workable” medical marijuana program.

“It will certainly be beneficial to those suffering from seizure disorders, no question,” said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, legislative counsel for the organization. “But the THC cap will leave most patients behind.”

Nonetheless, Iowa Epilepsy Foundation director Roxanne Cogil praised the overall effort.

“We feel this is a significant step forward to ensure meaningful access for Iowans,” she said. “We do look forward to continue to working with legislators to help improve the program.”

Just another reminder to vote early, vote often, and vote them out of office. This MMJ program is a joke. Only FL is worse and I say worse in as far as I can tell the FL regs completely violate the spirit and letter of their constitutional amendment while Iowas has had no such direct expression of democracy.
“Donut” Smoke Marijuana, Says Iowa Cops In New Campaign

In a last ditch effort to curb the use of illicit substances in the United States, police departments in areas of prohibition are now trying to bribe the American citizen with cylindrical sweets if they “donut” get stoned on marijuana.

Ahead of last week’s 420 holiday, the Ames Police Department got together with Iowa State University to produce a ridiculous social media campaign encouraging students, and anyone else willing to listen, to eat donuts rather than engage in “bad decisions” like smoking weed.

A video featuring two police officers stuffing their faces with ring shaped cakes has become the primary voice of the campaign. It reportedly went viral last week, garnering hundreds of thousands of views, because we suspect there aren’t too many people in the U.S. who would dare pass up an opportunity to watch a couple of cops do something other than harass people.

“It’s simple. Respect each other, and donut make bad decisions, and we’ll give you free donuts,” Officer Anthony Greiter says in the video. (cont)

So...I'm getting the feeling that they have discovered time travel in Iowa and aren't telling the rest of us. How else but travel to a pre-scientific era could they come up with such ludicrous and invalidated views on MJ. So.....like is "have a donut instead" even worse than "Just say no"?
Iowa still bans smoking marijuana, vaporizing it or eating cannabis-infused food = Iowa really doesn't have a viable program and patients there are still getting screwed

Iowa Gov. Appoints Members to New Medical Marijuana Board

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed eight people to a medical marijuana advisory board created under a new state law.

The Republican governor announced appointments to the medical cannabidiol board Wednesday, though one slot remains vacant. The positions are unpaid and not subject to Senate confirmation.

The board was one of several provisions in a medical marijuana law that went into effect this summer. It expanded Iowa’s existing cannabis oil program by allowing the sale and manufacturing of such oil within the state.

Iowa’s new law also allows use of cannabis oil for several ailments. The board can recommend adding or removing medical conditions and is expected to work with state officials on creating the new manufacturing system.

Iowa still bans smoking marijuana, vaporizing it or eating cannabis-infused food.

Here’s the full list of the governor’s appointees:

  • Pediatrician: Dr. Ken Cheyne, Clive
  • Psychiatrist: Dr. Jill Liesveld, Coralville
  • Law Enforcement: Mike McKelvey, Mason City
  • Family Medicine: Dr. Lonny Miller, Creston
  • Pharmacist: Dr. Stephen Richards, Spirit Lake
  • Oncologist: Dr. Robert Shreck, Des Moines
  • Pain Management: Dr. Jacqueline Stoken, Waukee
  • Neurologist: Dr. Wendy Zadeh, Ankeny
Medicinal Cannabis in Iowa is just a whole lot of one step forward, two steps back. :hmm:

Iowa AG halts part of medical marijuana program

DES MOINES — An unusual attempt by Iowa to work with another state to transport medical marijuana oil across state lines is on hold amid legal concerns it could invite scrutiny from the federal government.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office advised the Iowa Department of Public Health this month that it should not implement a small section in Iowa’s new medical marijuana law that requires the state, before the end of the year, to license up to two “out-of-state” dispensaries from a bordering state. Those entities would have been expected to bring cannabis oil into Iowa in order to sell it.

That’s considered illegal under federal law, which categorizes marijuana as a type of controlled substance that is prohibited from being moved across state lines. But during the final hours of the legislative session in April, some Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature suggested adding the language to open the door for a partnership with a neighboring state like Minnesota.

The development is not expected to impact other provisions in the law that call for establishing an in-state production system for cannabis oil by the end of 2018.

Still, some GOP lawmakers expressed frustration with the news because the provision was also aimed at creating more immediate access to cannabis oil. Currently, Iowans have no way of getting the product within the state.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, noted in a statement that no matter what the Legislature had decided, the state still would have been in violation of federal law.

“As I’ve said before, the federal government needs to act on this issue or let the states do their work,” she said, adding, “The out-of-state distributors are the quickest way to supply sick Iowans with a product that doctors say could be beneficial. If that provision doesn’t work out, then people will have to wait another year, and that’s disappointing.”

At least 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Possessing, manufacturing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In 2013, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum offering assurance that states could proceed with medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution, in part by avoiding agreements that would move marijuana from one state to another.

Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said in an email that if a state program authorizes or encourages diversion from one state to another, “it is possible that state’s program may come under increased scrutiny from the federal government.” He said the halt on implementation should remain “until the federal government provides further guidance regarding state medical marijuana programs.”

Justin Strekal, political director for the pro-marijuana group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as NORML, said few states have attempted what Iowa tried to do, though data is limited.

“This is just another example of lawmakers over-complicating something for the sake of over-complicating it, rather than implementing a system that actually serves their constituents,” he said.

It’s unclear how President Donald Trump’s administration will deal with medical marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned marijuana is a dangerous drug and said he’d reconsider existing marijuana policies.

Sally Gaer, of West Des Moines, has lobbied for years for Iowa to allow more access to medical marijuana. Gaer, whose adult daughter uses cannabis oil, said lawmakers could have put Iowa’s medical marijuana program in jeopardy by adding the language.

“I’m so frustrated with this,” she said.

The out-of-state dispensaries provision is tucked into the second-to-last page of a 20-page law, and is separate from requirements that Iowa license up to two cannabis oil manufacturers in Iowa and up to five dispensaries to sell it in-state. The oil would be supplied in Iowa by the end of 2018. Smoking marijuana remains prohibited.

If state attorneys had decided out-of-state dispensaries must be licensed, it could have worsened an already tight timeline for launching the overall program. A new medical marijuana board met last week to help with requirements that Iowa license its manufacturers by December. The dispensaries must be licensed by April.

Rep. Jarad Klein, who was floor manager for the medical marijuana legislation that became law, was surprised to learn the provision on the out-of-state dispensaries wasn’t moving forward. He said he would seek guidance from Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was lieutenant governor when the law was passed.

Klein, a Keota Republican, emphasized Upmeyer’s point that the setup was aimed at ensuring that while the in-state production system gets up and running, people could access cannabis oil.

“Between now and us having that, sick people need their medicine,” he said.

A Reynolds spokesman referred all questions to the public health department.
Four questions with leader of Iowa medical marijuana board

DES MOINES — A new state advisory panel charged with helping implement an expanded medical marijuana law in Iowa is trying to balance the demands of an expedited timeline with a go-slow desire to avoid pitfalls that may accompany the experiment to widen the approved uses of cannabidiol.

“I think the state of Iowa is trying to be careful but compassionate how they roll this out,” said Mike McKelvey, a Mason City Police captain who was Gov. Kim Reynolds’ choice as chairman of Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Board, which was created during the legislative session earlier this year.

The board — consisting of McKelvey as the law enforcement representative and eight experts in various medical fields — has been tasked with helping develop a plan to set up a state-sanctioned system of growing and dispensing marijuana-derived cannabis oil and to widen the variety of medical conditions for which doctors could prescribe lower-strength cannabidiol to patients.

“There’s a lot of angst from some parents or patients who have been unable to get this legally in the state, and they want to get it because it has apparently had significant beneficial impacts on their children who have seizure disorders or other issues, and they’re very overanxious to get this,” McKelvey said.

“At the same time, I think I and the other board members will try to learn from how some other states may have implemented the process — either too hastily or without checks and balances just to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks or important things are missed. It’s kind of new, uncharted territory for Iowa, but I think we’ll look at other states and try to at least give it a decent shot and hopefully make some good suggestions moving forward.”

Several years ago, former Gov. Terry Branstad and the Legislature agreed to decriminalize possession of cannabis oil purchased out-of-state for treatment of chronic epilepsy. The new law allows Iowa doctors to prescribe cannabis oil for treatment of more than a dozen chronic and debilitating conditions and provides for the creation of no more than two businesses to grow marijuana and produce medical cannabidiol and no more than five businesses to sell it.

Q: Licensing deadlines are Dec. 1 for the manufacturers, April 1 for the dispensaries and availability of products for purchase by December 2018. Is that timeline too aggressive?

A: I suppose it depends who you ask. If you were a patient and wanted to get this stuff legally in Iowa, it’s probably not soon enough in their opinion. But I think Iowa is trying to make sure that the rules and regulations and sustainability of this process is in place before we move forward. I know some of the ideas here in selecting a manufacturer or a dispensary is that they are going to be sustainable long-term to be reliable in producing, providing enough product for the patients that need it.

Q: What are you looking for in terms of the new operations?

A: Making sure the internal process is reliable. By Iowa law, the THC content can’t be more than 3 percent. So, just making sure it’s a reliable product and is it what they say it is. How much they can produce? Will they be able to make enough to take care of the patient load in Iowa? Timeline? I don’t know how fast they can grow and produce this. Also, the security controls — are they going to monitor their inventory, are they going to have security systems or security guards or whatever in place to control access and loss or theft, and then also employee monitoring? Obviously, you would have to have credible, law-biding employees in place versus some illegal operation. So there’s going to be a lot of that checks and balances that I think the board and the Department of Public Health will look at to select up to two manufacturers.

Q: From a law enforcement perspective, do you have any trepidation about expanding into this area?

A: When you look across the country and the trend toward medical marijuana, marijuana legalization or decriminalization — obviously, it’s a growing trend, and we’re only talking about CBD oil here, we’re not talking about edibles or the leafy stuff that you smoke. We know as law enforcement that there is some interest in Iowa to look at these other forms, but in law enforcement, we also know from looking at our own drug seizures that most of the marijuana coming into Iowa is from these external states, especially the ones where it’s legal because there’s a lot of diversion of medical or legal marijuana that’s coming into Iowa and being sold illegally for other purposes. All of this stuff is a concern. I think CBD is probably the least of the major concerns. When you’re comparing leafy marijuana and edibles to CBD, I think CBD is probably a nice, safe way to start looking at this if there’s going to be a broader discussion on marijuana in general. I think we’re kind of getting our toes in the pool on CBDs and just kind of assessing that first before we take a big jump and go to the leaf or edible variety.

Q: Former Gov. Branstad always expressed concern over unintended consequences associated with a creeping acceptance of marijuana. Do you share that concern?

A: Like I said before, I think Iowa is trying to be careful but compassionate — doing this carefully to make sure we’re not going to let something slip through the cracks that may impact Iowa negatively down the road. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there that the public assumes the marijuana today is the same marijuana from back in Woodstock or that their grandparents may have smoked. What we’re seeing today is that the marijuana from the ’60s and ’70s was probably under 5 percent THC, and kind of the average street value of marijuana today is closer to 20 percent THC. There’s also some genetic engineering going on of marijuana, some of the stuff that wasn’t around back in the ’60s and ’70s, so there are some concerns out there, and I think it wise to move slowly in this area.
This program is a joke. Its an example of how to have an MMJ program without actually having an MMJ program. Limited to CBD oils, basically, with max THC of 3%. Let me say it again, its a sad joke on the poor patients of this state.

Five Iowa medical marijuana stores gain state approval

Iowans looking to buy medical marijuana products could have options across the state, starting in December.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that it has offered cannabis dispensary licenses to proposed stores in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo and Windsor Heights.

The stores are planned by MedPharm Iowa in Windsor Heights and Sioux City; Have a Heart Compassion Care in Council Bluffs and Davenport; and Iowa Cannabis Company in Waterloo. MedPharm is based in Des Moines. The other two companies are based in Washington state, which has allowed medical uses of marijuana since 1998.

More: Iowa approved five marijuana stores. Does that mean you can soon get legal pot?

The dispensaries are to be set up under Iowa’s new medical marijuana law, which will allow sales of some types of marijuana-derived medications to people suffering from maladies such as epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease or intractable pain.

New stores will look like a pharmacy, doctor's office
MedPharm executive Lucas Nelson said Tuesday that his company’s Windsor Heights store will be in the Apple Valley shopping center, which is south of University Avenue and east of 73rd Street. MedPharm’s Sioux City store will be in a strip mall on Sunnybrook Drive, he said.

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Cities where medical marijuana dispensaries have and have not been approved. (Photo: Des Moines Register)

Nelson said the dispensaries will be modern and secure. “It’s going to probably remind you of a combination pharmacy and doctor’s office,” he said.

Customers will enter via a vestibule staffed by a security guard, he said. The guard will check to ensure each customer has a state-issued card allowing them to purchase medical cannabis products. If they do, they will be let into a waiting room. From there, they will be called into a back area, where they will meet with staff members who can help them choose a product, such as an oil, cream or gel capsule. The stores will not be allowed to sell smokeable marijuana.

MedPharm is the only company that has been granted a permit to grow marijuana and process it into medications. The company is setting up a $10 million facility in a converted warehouse in southeast Des Moines.

Photos: Inside Iowa's first facility for producing medical marijuana
MedPharm Iowa is collaborating with Kemin Industries to build Iowa's first facility for producing medical marijuana products in Des Moines, construction is underway on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in an old warehouse most recently used as a storage facility by Kemin. Kelsey Kremer/The Register
Its leaders are pressing the Legislature to expand the medical marijuana law to allow the products use for more medical conditions. MedPharm also wants Iowa to allow products with higher levels of THC. The chemical is what makes recreational marijuana users high, but proponents say it is also critical for treatment of pain and some other conditions.

Nelson estimated each dispensary represents an investment of $300,000 to $1 million. That includes the annual cost of a state permit, which is expected to be $75,000 to $125,000. The setup costs also will include store rent, modifications and furnishings, plus the hiring and training of staff and the purchase of medications.

“We believe in what the medicine does, and we believe in where this is headed for the state,” Nelson said.

The companies have shown their commitment, as has the Iowa Department of Public Health, which is overseeing implementation of the new system, he said. “We want the Legislature to do the same,” he said of pending proposals to expand the state’s medical-marijuana program.

Seven companies filed a total of 21 applications for dispensary licenses by the March 9 deadline. Some medical marijuana proponents had feared there would be little interest in the licenses because of the law’s limits on the types of products allowed and the ailments for which they could be purchased.

The state did not accept proposals to place stores in Cedar Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, or for either of two proposed stores in the Iowa City area, which is known as the most politically liberal urban area in the state.

Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said the law requires the new dispensaries be spread across the state. The committee that judged the applications decided the best way to locate stores in eastern Iowa was to offer licenses in Waterloo to the north and Davenport to the east, she said.

If the committee had approved a license in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City region instead of in Waterloo, all of the dispensaries except the one in Sioux City would have been along the Interstate Highway 80 corridor, she said.

No dispensaries were proposed in southern Iowa, which has no large cities.

The permit committee included representatives of the Iowa health and economic development departments, plus two officials from other states that have medical-marijuana programs, Reisetter said. The criteria included the strength of the applicants’ plans for security, record-keeping and storage, plus their finances and staff.

Reisetter said the companies that were offered licenses have until Wednesday morning to decide whether to accept them.

A representative of the Have A Heart Compassion Care company said the Seattle-based firm has six stores in Washington state. The shops sell marijuana products for medical and recreational purposes, which are both legal there.

Marcello Ramirez, who is executive assistant to the company's chief executive officer, said Have A Heart also has licenses for dispensaries in California, Oregon and Hawaii, and is looking to expand into several other states.

Ramirez said his company respects that Iowa is launching a limited medical-marijuana program. "Our narrative is we're at the pace of Iowa," he said. "We don't want to have people thinking we're here to push the legal adult-use agenda." The company is settling details on its new shops in Council Bluffs and Davenport and is looking forward to helping Iowans get their program started, he said.
"state lawmakers are resistant to support medical marijuana (despite most voters supporting the issue)."

Get new politicians.

Why are Iowa leaders so timid about embracing science and medical advances?

It was a rather remarkable statement to hear from the head of a company investing more than $10 million to set up the first medical marijuana manufacturing plant in Iowa.

"I think the jury is out whether we can survive under the current law or not,” said owner Chris Nelson.

Whoa. The MedPharm Iowa plant hasn’t even opened, and the man who won the exclusive right to grow and process marijuana for medicinal use is doubting its chance of success?

Yes, but it's not the product Nelson is unsure of. He believes in marijuana’s potential. It is associated with treatment of pain, inflammation, seizures, nausea, lack of appetite and muscle spasms. "We believe in what the medicine does, and we believe in where this is headed for the state," Nelson told The Register's editorial board recently.

It’s not the market, either. He’s so sure there is one, he’s spending between $300,000 and $1 million on each of two retail dispensaries. No home basement with grow lights, this enterprise.

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People take part in the March for Science make their way around the capitol building on Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Des Moines. (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

The problem is Iowa’s law restricting what conditions marijuana may treat, and the amount of THC it can contain. The limit is 3 percent, which producers like Nelson consider ineffective. Potent strains for recreational use have about 20 percent.

Also, the state's medical marijuana law, passed last year, limits its use to only nine serious medical conditions, when many more could be helped. Even as 30 states and the District of Columbia have approved marijuana by voter referendum or legislative action, Iowa has spent years dragging its feet. Iowa lawmakers and the state’s professional boards seem to be too timid to connect their names to anything involving a plant that can also make people high.

But why, when a majority of Iowans support medical marijuana?

That’s a topic that should be put to politicians attending Saturday’s March for Science Iowa at the state Capitol. In its second year, the march will encourage political leaders and candidates to support publicly funded science “that upholds the common good.” They will be called upon to enact “evidence-based policies in the public interest” and questioned on their support for science and science education.

That's necessary because of the resistance by some to acknowledging the human role in climate change even as our weather patterns are turned upside down, or the environmental destruction from large-scale confinements that pollute our waters. And Iowa lawmakers remain hell-bent on preventing women's constitutional right to end a pregnancy before fetal viability.

March organizers say they have commitments from three Democratic candidates for governor, both Democratic candidates for secretary of state, one for secretary of agriculture and three for 3rd District House of Representatives. No Republican candidate has said they would attend. Invitations were extended to Gov. Kim Reynolds, Rep. David Young, Secretary of State Paul Pate and Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig as well as candidates Craig Lang, Ray Gaesser and Dan Zumbach.

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MedPharm Iowa is collaborating with Kemin Industries to build Iowa's first facility for producing medical marijuana products in Des Moines. Construction crews work on the project on March 21. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)

Reynolds’ spokesperson, Brenna Smith, said the governor has a family obligation. March spokesman Thomas O’Donnell acknowledged the invitation was made "a little late" but said Reynolds should want to be there to highlight her STEM initiatives. He said her STEM Advisory Council may have a table there.

O’Donnell also observed that Young has voted in favor of hiking spending on federal science research included in the new federal budget, where spending on research and development will reach $176.8 billion, the largest in more than a decade.

It takes boldness and vision to explore new frontiers in medicine and science. In some cases, it also takes political will. Yet as other states have moved ahead of Iowa in some of these areas, Iowa's opposition seems locked in an old culturally conservative mindset.

To its credit, the legislature has responded to the opioid crisis by easing restrictions on access to naloxone, an opioid antidote, so first responders can save lives in overdose cases. And they did pass a mental health law this year.

But when it comes to medical marijuana, the restrictions prevent its effectiveness.

“Is cannabis therapy Iowa's next big biotech industry?” a Register op-ed asked last year, urging lawmakers not to let the marijuana law sunset. Author Tom Swegle, the CEO of MedCara Pharmaceuticals in Conrad wrote: “All truths pass through three phases: ridicule, violent opposition and acceptance as self-evident.”

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Kemin Industries' Christopher Nelson, President and CEO, talking about MedPharm Iowa Tuesday, April 3, 2018, with the editorial board at the Des Moines Register. (Photo: Rodney White/The Register)

I'm not sure which stage we're at but we're not there yet. Iowa's first law on medical marijuana allowed only patients with severe epilepsy to get cards to use cannabis oil, yet provided no legal means to obtain it. It was signed by then-Gov. Terry Branstad only after he had gotten some pushback for declaring those “few” people who could benefit from it should move out of state.

The following year the Iowa Board of Pharmacy refused to change marijuana's classification from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug for medical purposes. One member called it "clearly a political issue at this point."

A Democratic senator's 2014 bill to allow Iowans with some serious medical conditions access to marijuana with a doctor’s prescription was dead on arrival. Now lawmakers won’t fix the current bill without getting a green light from the Cannabidiol Board they created, which may not give it anytime soon.

Reynolds' spokeswoman said the governor believes further study is needed.

Can’t we look at other states' studies? What makes Iowans different? Even Iowa religious leaders have supported a relaxation, as have Republicans with family members who need the drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has vouched for THC's medicinal benefits.

“Long term," Nelson told the Register board, "if the state's laws are so restrictive that patients don't get any relief, patients won't get cards, patients won't buy material — and so there will be no reason to have MedPharm Iowa."

Talk about a waste.
"Every 90 days, patients eligible for medical marijuana as a form of treatment would be allowed to receive up to 25 grams of cannabis-products. The only exception being for those patients that are deemed terminally-ill with a life expectancy of less than one year."
I can't comment as I will call these Iowa politicians what they deserve and I don't want another warning point. But wow...I mean, read this:

Senator Rich Taylor: “We’re not just putting it out there willy-nilly and allowing everybody in Iowa to have access to this."

Now, if this isn't patronizing and paternalistic I don't know what is. I mean, we can't just let adult citizens just do what they want without his approval, now can we?

Iowa Legislature removes THC cap on medical marijuana

Iowa’s legislative session came to an exciting end for medical marijuana patients.

A bill that would remove the cap on how much THC may be in a cannabis-product designated for medical use has passed both floors of the legislature and is headed to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk for either approval or veto.

The Iowa State Senate advanced the bill to the governor’s desk in a 40 to 7 vote. The bill, if approved by the governor, would remove the current 3 percent cap on THC from medical marijuana. In removing the cap, legislators approved a per-patient limit of 25 grams of marijuana per 90 day period.

The only exception for this rule is that terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of one year or less may receive a waiver to get more than 25 grams.

Sen. Tom Greene, a pharmacist in his pre-politician life, voted in favor of the bill. He told Iowa Public Radio that this bill’s journey has been a turbulent one but necessary for patients’ health.

“This has been a long journey. I know many patients who need this medication. This is a small step, but we need to keep the ball rolling,” Greene said. “Reclassification of this will make leaps and bounds and just really provide that care for those Iowans.”

What the proposed bill will do if passed
The bill specifically allows for more potent medical marijuana products to be sold at the state’s five licensed dispensaries. The current 3 percent cap on THC, the chemical credited with giving patients a medically approved high, would be lifted and replaced with a per-person limit on the amount of marijuana product each patient is allowed to receive on a tri-monthly basis.

Every 90 days, patients eligible for medical marijuana as a form of treatment would be allowed to receive up to 25 grams of cannabis-products. The only exception being for those patients that are deemed terminally-ill with a life expectancy of less than one year.

The bill would also expand the type of health-care providers that may provide recommendations for marijuana as a form of medical treatment. Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners would be allowed to recommend patients for medical marijuana cards.

The bill would also remove a ban on people with certain criminal charges related to cannabis from receiving medical marijuana cards.

What lifting the THC cap actually means
Senator Rich Taylor argues that by lifting the THC cap, Iowan growers and producers would be able to do more for the patients in their state but in a controlled manner.

“We’re not just putting it out there willy-nilly and allowing everybody in Iowa to have access to this. You have to clear the hoops to get this drug,” Taylor said. “And the people of Iowa need it. And they expect us to get it to them.”

The THC cap is not limited to smokeable forms of cannabis. Marijuana growers and manufacturers in the Hawkeye State may also put more THC in creams, pills, and oils. Iowa Public Radio reports that the producers' first priority is going to put less filler in products to make them more affordable for patients.

With the close of the state legislative session, the bill heads to Reynolds’ desk for signature. While it remains unclear as to whether she supports the bill, Iowans can have hope that their Legislature is in favor of more potent medical products for their patients.
"Efforts to lift the THC cap had been complicated by opposition from the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board. The board, primarily made up of physicians, has been leery of expanding the still-new program."
Well, of course. I mean, we wouldn't want physicians undermining big pharma sales now would we? sigh.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoes medical marijuana expansion bill, saying 'Iowa must proceed cautiously' on changes

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday vetoed legislation that would have expanded Iowa’s medical marijuana program, calling for caution before increasing the potency of available products.

The Republican governor announced her decision in a statement released shortly before the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

"The health and safety of Iowans is too important for us not to get this right," she said.

Reynolds’ move slows further expansion of a medical cannabidiol program that currently allows capsules, extracts, concentrates, lotions, ointments and tinctures. Smoking medical or recreational marijuana remains prohibited in Iowa.

Had Reynolds signed it, legal medical marijuana in Iowa could have contained more THC — the chemical that makes recreational marijuana users high — than currently permitted in products made and sold in the state.

Reynolds said she based her veto on feedback from a state medical marijuana board that recommended reducing the scope of the potency changes.

“Ultimately, I believe Iowa must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion of our medical (cannabidiol) program is thoughtful and deliberate — particularly because Iowa’s program is in its infancy and the body of research that analyzes the efficacy of medical CBD is limited," she said.

The veto is a blow to patients of the five-year-old program, some of whom have said the existing law is inadequate in allowing them access to drugs to treat their medical conditions.

"This is not OK," said Karrie Anderson, a 47-year-old in Dallas County who has multiple sclerosis. She doesn't use the existing program because she feels it wouldn't help her, as the program is currently structured. "If you have compassion for people, you find a way to make this work."

One day before the veto, activists who supported the latest legislation submitted a petition at the Capitol to lobby Reynolds to sign the bill into law. They said it was signed by nearly 1,600 people.

More than 2,800 people have active registration cards to participate in the program, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Cannabis plants grow in Iowa's first facility for producing medical-marijuana products, MedPharm Iowa, during their ribbon cutting event on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Des Moines. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)

An advisory board's recommendations
The measure Reynolds vetoed would have replaced a 3% THC limit on medical marijuana products with a new measurement system: 25 grams of THC in a 90-day period to a patient or primary caregiver.

Efforts to lift the THC cap had been complicated by opposition from the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board. The board, primarily made up of physicians, has been leery of expanding the still-new program.

The Republican-controlled House nearly unanimously approved the bill in March, and the GOP-majority Senate finalized it on the last day of session in late April.

After the House vote, a board member resigned and said some lawmakers had misrepresented the board's position on the chamber floor. Lawmakers said that wasn't their intention.

In April, the board recommended removing the THC percentage cap and replacing it with a THC limit of 4.5 grams over a 90-day period.

In a letter to Reynolds and lawmakers, the board said the higher gram limit would allow "an extremely large amount of THC for a medical program that seeks to avoid becoming a recreational program." The board also said it could make physicians reluctant to certify patients for the program.

Despite that, Democrats and Republicans joined to approve the 25-gram limit.

What the bill would have done
Along with the change in the potency of available marijuana derivatives, the measure would have also:

  • Revised “untreatable pain” to “severe or chronic pain” on the list of debilitating medical conditions, a move that would have allowed more people to use the program.
  • Expanded the definition of a health care practitioner who can make recommendations to patients seeking treatment. Supporters believed including physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners to the definition could have expanded the program’s use in rural areas.
  • Lifted a ban on felons becoming patients in the program.
  • Required state health officials to collect and evaluate data associated with the program, in an effort to better understand the benefits, risks and outcomes of patients.
  • Allowed patients whose conditions were terminal a waiver for unlimited THC in their cannabis products.
Reynolds said in her statement that she supported many of the provisions in the bill, including suggestions to lift the THC percentage limit. But she said the 25-gram limit would have allowed a person to consume THC levels "higher than one would typically consume even with aggressive recreational marijuana use."

"I have not been unable to discern any evidence-based justification for the specific 25-gram limit proposed in this bill," Reynolds said.

Backers 'extremely disappointed'
Patients had long lobbied lawmakers to lift the THC percentage limit, arguing the current cap forced them to buy additional products to find relief. Like representatives for the companies that manufacture and dispense the products in Iowa, they said the restrictions were wasteful, expensive and frustrating.

MedPharm, the state’s first licensed medical marijuana manufacturer, criticized the veto. Lucas Nelson, general manager for the company, said it provided the governor and the board with "peer-reviewed papers demonstrating that patients need options in their treatment."

"It is simply incorrect to state that there is not an evidence-based justification for the changes proposed in this bill," he said in a statement.

Sen. Brad Zaun, an Urbandale Republican, said while he was was "extremely disappointed" with the veto, he vowed to work with Reynolds to file revamped legislation next session.

"This will be a top priority in January 2020," he said in a statement.

“I'm very disappointed (actually, quite pissed) that Gov. Reynolds ignored the vast majority of people in Iowa who want the medical cannabis law modified to help more sick and suffering Iowans. Her veto today was simply unconscionable,” Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, wrote on Twitter.
Now, if you read the article below and see Gov Reynolds' quotes justifying her veto of an expanded med program legislation, then you will find it much easier to accept that lead poisoning in the past had a terribly deleterious impact on cognitive abilities of older generations. Its the only thing I can think of as a source for such blatant and abject stupidity.

IMO, a program with a 3% cap on THC is not a program at all and is just a Potemkin Village of a MMJ program.

Here is an example: "Reynolds said she vetoed the proposal because the cap would still allow an individual to consume more THC a day than an illegal user."


Iowa Gov. Reynolds defends medical marijuana expansion veto
Democrats ask peers to override her decision

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds is defending her veto of a medical marijuana expansion she views as “too much of a jump,” but at least two Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday they want the Republican-led Legislature to convene a special session to override her decision.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, and Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat and an Urbandale pharmacist, say they want to give legislators a second chance to support the legislation intended to help suffering Iowans.

They plan Wednesday to ask majority Republicans to call for a special session to resurrect House File 732. The Democrats note the bill to expand the medical cannabis program passed the Iowa House by a vote of 96 to 3 and the Iowa Senate by a vote of 40 to 7. It would take a two-thirds vote of both chambers to convene a special legislative session to consider overturning the Republican governor’s veto.

Last week, Reynolds decided Iowa’s medical marijuana program should not be expanded in the way legislators had proposed.

The proposal would have removed the 3 percent cap on THC and instead limited the amount of medical cannabis a patient could be prescribed at any one time to 25 grams over 90 days.

“We need to be narrow and cautious in how we move forward,” Reynolds said Tuesday. She told reporters she wants a more balanced approach, saying “I do not support recreational marijuana and I just felt that was too much of a jump.”

Reynolds said she vetoed the proposal because the cap would still allow an individual to consume more THC a day than an illegal user.

Supporters said the expansion is necessary because the 3 percent cap limits the effectiveness against most ailments.

But Reynolds said she deferred to the state medical cannabis board, which recommended a prescription cap of just 4.5 grams per 90 days.

The board was created to oversee the program and recommend changes to lawmakers. It is made up of eight physicians and one law enforcement official, each appointed by the governor.

Reynolds pledged to continue working with the board and lawmakers on potentially expanding the program, saying Tuesday she was “all in” for finding a balance “and we’ll get there.”

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale and a strong supporter of the medical cannabis program and its proposed expansion, said in a statement last week he was “extremely disappointed” with the veto, but said after conversations with Reynolds he remains committed to work with her and other lawmakers during the 2020 legislative session.

Lucas Nelson, general manager of the Iowa medical cannabis manufacturer MedPharm, said last week the veto will “greatly hurt Iowans trying to fight debilitating medical conditions” because the changes would have fixed Iowa’s “deeply flawed” program.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

Iowa Lawmakers Plan Attempt to Override Veto of Medical Marijuana Expansion
Senator Joe Bolkcom and Representative John Forbes are planning to challenge the veto.

Two Democratic lawmakers in Iowa are calling for a special legislative session to override last week’s veto of a medical marijuana expansion bill by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. On Friday, Reynolds vetoed a bill (House File 732) that would make more patients eligible to use medical cannabis products and increase the allowable THC dosage for therapeutic cannabis products. The bill was passed with bipartisan support in both the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate but was rejected by Reynolds last week.

On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Rep. John Forbes, both Democrats, said they plan to ask for a special session of the legislature to override Reynolds’ veto.

“By doing that, we hope the governor will know that we are serious, and we really think that this legislation is necessary to enhance the lives of Iowans through better care,” Forbes said.

Special Session Unlikely
Forbes, who is a licensed pharmacist, said that expanding the state’s medical marijuana program would help Iowans with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Although the bill was passed by the House with a vote of 96 to 3 and succeeded in the Senate by a margin of 40 to 7, he doesn’t believe the special session to override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in both houses to prevail, will be convened by the Republican majority. Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer issued a statement that echoed that sentiment.

“While there were many good things in this bill, I don’t know if it has the consensus necessary at this point to override a veto, so a special session would be ill-advised,” Upmeyer said. “The best way forward is to bring everyone to the table over the interim to craft a new bill based on the most recent recommendations from the Board. I am pleased to see that Governor Reynolds is willing to work on a solution that works for Iowans.”

Bill Expands Access to MMJ
Under House File 732, a provision in Iowa’s medical marijuana program limiting cannabis products to no more than 3 percent THC would be replaced with a limit of 25 grams of THC per patient every 90 days. The bill also removes a restriction excluding convicted felons from participating in the program and would allow more patients access to medical marijuana by replacing “untreatable pain” with “severe or chronic pain” on the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions.

In a statement released before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Reynolds pledged to work with legislators and the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board to reform the medical marijuana program, but said that the changes to the THC limit in House File 732 were not the right approach.

“The health and safety of Iowans is too important for us not to get this right,” Reynolds said.

“Ultimately, I believe Iowa must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion of our medical (cannabidiol) program is thoughtful and deliberate — particularly because Iowa’s program is in its infancy and the body of research that analyzes the efficacy of medical CBD is limited,” she added.
This is just too narcissistic and self-centered for words!! Wow, she's a sober drunk so everybody must be protected from any/all intoxicants....for their own good....by her....just ask her! FUCK, what's wrong with these people.

Gov. Kim Reynolds cites personal alcohol struggles in medical marijuana veto


A proposed change in Iowa’s medical marijuana law was “too much of a jump” for Gov. Kim Reynolds, who said her own battle with addiction entered into her decision to veto the legislation.

“It was a tough, tough, tough call for me,” the governor said Monday about her veto of House File 732. The bill, approved earlier this year 96-3 by the House and 40-7 by the Senate, would have removed the 3 percent cap on THC and instead limited the amount of medical cannabis a patient could be prescribed at any one time to 25 grams over 90 days.

An increase that size could not be justified, she said. A marijuana gummy that can be purchased legally in Colorado contains between 5 and 25 milligrams of THC, the main mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana, Reynolds said. That equates to 277 milligrams of THC a day — five times higher than recommended by the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board.

“That was too much of a jump for me,” Reynolds said on WHO Radio.

Supporters said the 3 percent cap limits the effectiveness against most ailments. But Reynolds said she prefers to follow the recommendation of the state medical cannabis board, which recommended a prescription cap of 4.5 grams per 90 days.

She’s said she’s not opposed to raising the cap because “I know it works for people.”

“I heard the stories. I respect that. I want to help be a part of that, too, but I have to be balanced in how I move forward with this,” she said.

Reynolds pledged to work with the Legislature to find a better approach to expanding access to medical cannabis.

“We have a whole big area in between where we can work with the Legislature — and we will do that over the interim — and find a number that is safe and balances the health and safety of Iowans while still trying to identify some innovative ways we can work with patients who need it,” she said.

Her decision to veto HF 732 was influenced by her experience with alcohol, she said.

“I understand the world of addiction. I get it,” she said. “I know how fleeting recovery can be.”

Reynolds recounted a story of a young man who went through treatment with her. Forty-eight hours after celebrating his completion of the program, he had relapsed, jumped off a bridge and died.

“We have to be cautious and careful about how we move forward,” she said, adding that more Americans die in traffic crashes because of drug impairment than because of alcohol impairment. In Iowa, one-third of Iowa drug-related fatal crashes involve THC. “So I have to balance all of that.”
This is truly sad and I continue to believe that the Iowa Governor has some sort of mental cognition handicap based on some of the absolutely stupid stuff she has said to defend her positions on MMJ.

Iowa House Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill, Lowers THC Limits
The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would add more qualifying medical conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program and change the cap on THC for patients. The bill, House File 2589, was passed by a vote of 52 to 46.
Under the bill, post-traumatic stress disorder and “severe, intractable autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors” would be added to the state’s list of medical conditions that qualify a patient to use medical marijuana. The measure also changes “untreatable” pain to “chronic” pain on the list.
Additionally, the bill adds physician assistants, podiatrists, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and advanced practice registered nurses to the list of health care practitioners who are permitted to certify patients to use medicinal cannabis. But a change in the cap on the amount of THC a patient can receive that is also included in the bill has some Democrats describing the bill as a step backward for the program.

Under Iowa’s current program, only medical marijuana products with less than 3% THC are allowed. The bill passed on Tuesday changes that to a limit of 4.5 grams of total THC per patient in a 90-day period. The cap would be waived for the terminally ill and if a doctor determines that 4.5 grams is not enough THC to treat a patient’s condition. Capsules, extracts, and topicals are permitted but smoking cannabis is not legal.
A Step Backward for Patients
Democratic Rep. John Forbes, who is also a pharmacist, said that the change represents a “big step backwards” for patients who currently use more THC.
“I’ve had a couple of patients tell me if we pass legislation that limits it to the 50 milligrams per day, which is the 4.5 grams per 90 days, they will probably drop off the program — and they’ll have to have something for pain relief, so they’ll go back on their opioid medications,” Forbes said.
The new THC limit follows the recommendation of the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board, which is made up of health professionals and members of law enforcement. The cap is also supported by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who last year vetoed a bipartisan measure that would have set the cap at 25 grams of THC every 90 days.
Rep. Jarad Klein said that the 4.5 gram THC limit is supported by most of his fellow Republicans in the House.
“We based a lot of this on the advice of very smart medical professionals because in the state of Iowa we have a medical program, not a recreational program masquerading as a medical program,” Klein said. “And that’s the way we’re going to keep it.”
Before the bill was passed, Democrats in the House tried to amend the bill to 25 grams of THC per 90 days and then a compromise limit of 15 grams, but both attempts failed.
“They may want a compromise that’s higher, but I think the governor’s given us a pretty clear indication of what she wants,” said Klein. “And, based on last year, we know she’s not afraid to veto a bill that she doesn’t think is right, especially in this area.”
The bill now heads to the Iowa Senate, where another bill that would set the THC limit at 25 grams per 90-day period is also under consideration and has been advanced in committee.
Smokable hemp possession or sale in Iowa punishable with fines, jail in state’s new hemp and CBD regulations

New regulations clarifying the types of hemp and CBD products that are legal to sell and purchase in Iowa took effect with the enactment of the Hemp Consumer and Public Safety law on Wednesday.

The law changes certain provisions of the Iowa Hemp Act, which Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed to legalize hemp production in the state in May 2019.

Until now, products containing CBD were illegal to be sold or purchased over the counter in Iowa, as CBD still qualified as a controlled substance in the state.

CBD could only legally be sold in a small number of approved pharmacies.

Smokable hemp remains illegal in Iowa and the new rules impose penalties and restrictions on any harvested hemp used for inhalation such as cigarettes, vaporizers and others.

Retailers caught selling smokable hemp products and consumers found using them could face “a serious misdemeanor” punishable by up to a year of confinement and a fine of $315-$1,875.

The new rules:

  • Regulate hemp as a commodity.
  • Define a consumable hemp product as one that is metabolized or subject to a “biotransformative process” when introduced into the human body.
  • Expressly prohibit possession, use and all manufacturing, marketing, transportation, delivery or distribution of all smokable or inhalable hemp products.
  • Allow hemp-derived products that are manufactured in Iowa and comply with state packaging and labeling requirements to be sold and consumed.
  • Allow importation of consumable hemp only if the source originates within a state or jurisdiction that has a state or tribal plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has testing requirements “substantially similar” to Iowa’s.
  • Require manufacturers and retailers to register with the state for a license through the Department of Inspection and Appeals.
Iowa’s hemp production plan was among the first USDA-approved state plans in March under the federal agency’s interim final rule.

The Iowa Hemp Act was not implemented until after it received USDA approval.
Iowa medical cannabis businesses face profit woes amid heavy restrictions
Published August 21, 2020 | By Jeff Smith

Iowa’s 2-year-old medical marijuana program is struggling to become financially viable, constrained by low THC levels, high prices, minimal physician participation – and more.

While most marijuana markets across the country have experienced robust demand during the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa’s MMJ sales have been weak.

Patients have struggled to renew and register their MMJ cards because of complications related to the pandemic, and two of five dispensaries have shuttered their doors.

Sales are on pace to reach only $3.2 million this year, according to state data through July, compared with a recent Marijuana Business Factbook projection of $7 million-$9 million.

Iowa, which launched its program in November 2018, has a law that’s more business-friendly than some low-THC programs but is still an example of how not to structure an MMJ program, Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“The overall lesson is that highly restrictive programs are less viable, and tend to result in losses,” O’Keefe wrote.

Reflecting concerns about the program’s viability, two multistate operators (MSOs) in recent months exited the market:

Aaron Boshart, director of operations for Iowa Cannabis, which has a dispensary in Waterloo, agreed it’s tough sledding in the market.

“It’s really a compassionate-use market putting patients before profit,” Boshart said. “It’s obviously a challenging market in terms of lack of profitability.”

Lessons keep coming

The Iowa market offers several lessons, according to MPP’s O’Keefe:

  • Allowing only extracts drives up prices and makes products less competitive. “We’ve also seen that in Minnesota and Louisiana,” O’Keefe wrote.
  • Medical cannabis programs should not limit THC. “Doing so means many patients don’t get the product that would work best for them,” and that also results in higher prices, she noted.
  • Medical cannabis programs should not have overly restrictive lists of qualifying conditions. Iowa has approved only 14 qualifying conditions. The list does include chronic pain, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of the 4,297 active patient cardholders as of the end of July. Many states have more extensive lists or liberal policies, such as Oklahoma, which allows physician discretion in recommending MMJ.
Boshart identified two other challenges:

  • Physicians must certify a patient’s qualifying condition, but many are reluctant to do so. Iowa, he said, is home to two large health-care systems, both of which discourage doctors from participating in the MMJ program.
  • The Iowa MMJ market now relies on just one processor – yet another reason for high prices.
Boshart said he and Iowa Cannabis CEO Tate Kapple knew the market would be difficult to make a profit in, based on its regulatory structure and the conservative attitudes in the state.

But “this is our home state,” Boshart said. “We’re committed to the Iowa market long term and prepared to forgo profitability to provide access to patients of Iowa. … We feel responsible that this program succeeds at whatever the cost.”

In addition to owning Iowa Cannabis, Kapple also owns three recreational marijuana stores called Cannabis & Glass in the Spokane, Washington, area, providing him some financial cushion. He also has an adult-use store under construction in Oregon.

The state’s only other current operator is Des Moines-based MedPharm Iowa, which now is the sole cultivator/processor and also operates dispensaries in Sioux City and Windsor Heights under the MedPharm Iowa brand.

MedPharm Iowa is affiliated with Denver-based MedPharm Holdings.

“That’s a huge problem, there’s no price competition,” Boshart said of having only one product manufacturer in the state. “We’re extremely frustrated with the pricing structures we’ve seen for our patients.”

For example, he said, Iowa Cannabis sells a 30-unit bottle of 20:1 THC/CBD capsules for $130.

That’s two to three times more expensive than the cost per milligram of similar products in Washington state, Boshart noted.

MedPharm Iowa didn’t respond to inquiries for comment.

But after Acreage pulled out in June, MedPharm Iowa General Manager Lucas Nelson told The Gazette in Cedar Rapids that the exit was a “big blow” to the program.

“We can’t quite seem to get our footing in the program,” Nelson said.

Pandemics sales anemic

The coronavirus pandemic dealt a blow to Iowa’s program as well.

Dispensary visits and sales dropped off between April and June, according to the health department’s July update.

While state regulators allowed curbside pickup, delivery remains prohibited.

But the bigger issue appeared to be a decline in active patient cardholders and the closure of two dispensaries.

Patient renewals and new patient registrations fell sharply between April and June as residents struggled to see their doctors or visit state drivers’ license stations to pick up the cards.

Registrations and renewals picked up in July, as the Iowa health department took over the card-issuing process.

New THC formula could provide boost

In June, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law that replaced the 3% THC cap with a 4.5-gram THC cap per 90 days.

The law also removed THC limits for terminally ill patients and provided discretion to doctors to recommend additional THC to their patients.

Still, industry officials expect only a moderate boost from the THC formula change.

“I believe it will help marginally,” Boshart said.

“It’s a more scientific way to approach things,” he said, adding Iowa Cannabis hopes to see an expansion of products as a result.

In the meantime, Iowa regulators have moved to fill the abandoned licenses.

Applications were taken for the two vacant dispensary licenses, with Sept. 7 as the scheduled date to award the permits.

Have a Heart’s dispensaries weren’t in ideal locations, industry experts noted.

For example, the company’s Davenport dispensary was near the Illinois border, so customers could easily cross over and buy a range of less expensive products, including flower, in the neighboring state – even though it’s illegal to return to Iowa with a purchase.

Boshart said Iowa Cannabis applied for licenses in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas, which he characterized as the state’s two largest underserved areas.

MedPharm Iowa reportedly also applied for a dispensary permit near Iowa City.

It’s unclear how many applications Iowa received for the two dispensary vacancies, but 18 letters of intent were submitted before the application deadline.

Iowa MMJ regulators haven’t yet put out a request for applications for the vacant cultivator/processor license but say they will do so.

Boshart said Acreage edged out Iowa Cannabis for that license in the previous round. But he indicated Iowa Cannabis hasn’t decided whether it will apply because of the challenge of making a profit.

He said Iowa Cannabis welcomes additional participation in the market but noted that entrants need to be prepared for low margins and a difficult road to profitability.

If a business enters the market thinking limited competition will enable it to capitalize on or even monopolize certain areas, Boshart said, “that’s a flawed strategy at this point.”

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeffs@mjbizdaily.com
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Iowa’s 2-year-old medical marijuana program is struggling to become financially viable, constrained by low THC levels, high prices, minimal physician participation – and more.
And I personally refuse to call these Potemkin Village of a law a medical marijuana program. Just like Virginia and elsewhere, this program was more intended to cover politician's asses than to actually provide benefit to ailing Iowans.

FFS :cursing: :BangHead:
Iowa Officials To Seek Federal Marijuana Exemption From DEA

Iowa plans to seek an official exemption from federal marijuana prohibition in an effort to resolve policy conflicts impeding its limited medical cannabis program.

The state Department of Public Health recently determined that it will proceed with an application asking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a formal exemption under the Controlled Substances Act in an effort to prevent the loss of federal funding it receives for education and long-term care facilities. The state’s market could see additional, inadvertent benefits if the application is approved, however, advocates say.

“There’s no guarantee that [DEA] will do anything with that or respond to us, but…we will move forward with doing our best to minimize that conflict between state and federal law,” the chair of the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board said at a meeting last week.

Members said they will be involved in the drafting of the application for the federal carve-out over the coming months. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for November 13. The public health department, which oversees the board, will submit the application to DEA once it’s finalized.

The language of a bill approved by state lawmakers that prompted this decision doesn’t specifically call on regulators to submit the application; rather it broadly calls on the public health department to “request guarantees from the agencies of the federal government providing funding to educational and long-term care facilities that facilities with policies allowing patients to possess medical cannabidiol on the grounds of the facilities…or allowing facility staff to administer medical cannabidiol to a patient shall not lose eligibility for any federal funding due to such policies.”

But members said at last week’s meeting that the DEA exemption application process would be the most effective way to establish protections from losing funds.

DEA regulations stipulate that the agency’s administrator “may grant an exemption in his discretion, but in no case shall he/she be required to grant an exception to any person which is otherwise required by law or the regulations.”

If DEA approved Iowa’s application, it could do more than provide the specific protections that lawmakers requested. According to Carl Olsen, a longtime cannabis reform advocate in the state, getting that exemption would also free up marijuana business access to financial institutions, resolve tax burdens that are unique to the industry and help promote research into cannabis.

owa’s medical cannabis program is more limited than those that have been established in other states. For example, it limits registered patients to a maximum of 4.5 grams of THC per 90-day period. Prior to a reform adopted by the legislature earlier this year, patients could only access cannabis products with up to three percent THC content.

“The Department has determined that it will move forward with seeking an exception for cannabis as a schedule I substance in Iowa from the DEA, in attempt to minimize conflict between State and Federal Law,” a presentation from the public health agency states.


It remains to be seen whether DEA will act on the application after its filed. The agency has historically resisted rescheduling requests, let alone full exemptions, for marijuana. In fact, scientists and veterans sued DEA this year, arguing that the legal basis it has used to justify keeping cannabis in Schedule I is unconstitutional. They asked for a review of its decisions to reject rescheduling petitions across several decades.

A federal appeals court denied a request from DEA to dismiss the lawsuit last month.

Separately, a federal court recently ruled that California regulators must comply with a DEA subpoena demanding information about certain marijuana businesses.

That development came three months after a Justice Department whistleblower accused Attorney General William Barr of directing investigations into 10 cannabis firm mergers because of the top prosecutor’s alleged personal animus for the industry.

That said, a top department official said in a letter to Congress that those actions are better understood as helping to ensure consumers have affordable access to products in a competitive cannabis market—a curious position for the federal government to take.

DEA Denies Request To Protect Iowa Medical Marijuana Program, But State Still Considering Action

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected a petition to exempt Iowa’s medical marijuana program from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) this month, Marijuana Moment has learned. But the activist who filed the request plans to push again for the exemption—and the state itself is considering separately filing a petition of its own to the federal agency.

The ask here is unconventional and hasn’t been pursued by any other state that has legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes. But longtime activist Carl Olsen has worked with members of the Iowa Department of Public Health to etch out a plan to pursue the exemption under an existing federal statute in accordance with a bill that state lawmakers passed earlier this year.

Olsen’s initial petition, submitted in 2019, was rejected by DEA on November 10. The agency said in a letter that it was denied “because the [Controlled Substances Act] controls marijuana under schedule I, and your requested exemption would result under the circumstances in the lapse of regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to substances placed on the various CSA schedules.”

But from the activist’s perspective, DEA didn’t do its due diligence in reviewing the statute that he claims provides for the state-level exemption. And he’s got the tentative backing of the health department, which is still considering submitting its own request, albeit on a different time schedule. The body might wait until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated, as they feel his administration may be more amenable than the current one.

DEA regulations stipulate that the agency’s administrator “may grant an exemption in his discretion, but in no case shall he/she be required to grant an exception to any person which is otherwise required by law or the regulations.”

Owen Parker, program manager for the health department’s Office of Medical Cannabidiol, told Marijuana Moment that officials are “still evaluating as how to implement” the requirement in the Iowa bill that passed this year to push federal agencies on protecting health care facilities in the state from federal punishment.

“No final decisions have been made at this time,” he said.

The language of the state legislation in question doesn’t specifically call on regulators to submit an exemption application. Instead, it broadly calls on the public health department to “request guarantees from the agencies of the federal government providing funding to educational and long-term care facilities that facilities with policies allowing patients to possess medical cannabidiol on the grounds of the facilities…or allowing facility staff to administer medical cannabidiol to a patient shall not lose eligibility for any federal funding due to such policies.”

Members of the state Medical Cannabidiol Board said during a meeting in September that the DEA exemption application process would be the most effective way to establish protections from losing funds as a result of its existing medical marijuana program.

That said, at another meeting this month, Parker reported that “internally here at the Department we are still working on that brief, and there’s other discussions that we’ll need to have before moving forward on anything.”

For Olsen’s rejected individual petition, the activist said he intends to submit a request for reconsideration by DEA—rather than go straight to a federal appeals court with a lawsuit. And in that request, he plans to stress that the state is weighing moving forward with a petition of its own.

In addition to asserting that federal law preempts state policies on marijuana, DEA also said in their response to Olsen that the agency is bound by international treaty obligations to maintain the plant’s general restrictive federal classification, and that’s part of the reason it denied the petition. But according to Olsen, those treaties only obligate them to place cannabis in certain schedules of the CSA and and do not address the U.S. statute that provides for administrative exemptions.

For what it’s worth, Iowa’s medical cannabis is more limited than those that have been established in many other states. For example, it limits registered patients to a maximum of 4.5 grams of THC per 90-day period. Prior to a reform adopted by the legislature earlier this year, patients could only access cannabis products with up to three percent THC content.

It remains to be seen whether DEA will approach the state’s application differently than Olsen’s, if and when it’s filed. The agency has historically resisted rescheduling requests, let alone full exemptions, for marijuana.

Scientists and veterans sued DEA this year, arguing that the legal basis it has used to justify keeping cannabis in Schedule I is unconstitutional. They asked for a review of its decisions to reject rescheduling petitions across several decades.

A federal appeals court denied a request from DEA to dismiss the lawsuit In August.

Read DEA’s response to the Iowa activists’s marijuana exemption request by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.

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