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Iowa Senate passes medical marijuana bill, now goes to House

The Iowa Senate voted 45-5 to pass the medical cannabis bill. (Photo: Steffi Lee)

On a 45-5 vote, the Iowa Senate voted to pass a bill that would expand the state's medical marijuana program, sending it to the Iowa House.

"One of the things we know from our experience with our current law is that people who are eligible for it can't get it in Iowa," Sen. Charles Schneider, R - West Des Moines, said during the debate.

Also known as the "Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act," the bill legalizes the production and sale of medical cannabis in Iowa. It bans the smoking of marijuana.

The medical conditions covered under this bill include:

  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Any terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year, if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: intractable pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting
  • Intractable pain
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (type I and II)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D - Iowa City, shared stories of patients he's met over the years.

"This at the end of the day, is about people that have come here and have effectively advocated for this law," Bolkcom said.

Several of the senators made pleas to members of the House from the Senate floor, hoping they also act quickly on the issue.

"We all in here, including myself, have learned a lot about the benefits of cannabis," State Sen. Brad Zaun, R - Urbandale, said. "With that said, please, I beg our House colleagues to do the right thing, recognizing we are stepping forward in a good faith, honest way to make this become law and sent down to the Governor."

Last week, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R - Clear Lake, told reporters the bill is "pretty broad" and she hasn't really had a chance to look at it. But she did express support for expansion of the current law.

"I think we anticipated the bill would be a little more limited with some of the features perhaps, illnesses, content," she told reporters last week. "We just have to look at because it's a little different than what we thought it might be."

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