UPDATE: Iowa medical marijuana bill advances

IA Medical marijuana bill moves to full committee

UPDATE (6:00 PM 2/17/2016) Late Wednesday afternoon, an expanded medical marijuana bill passed the House Commerce Committee on a vote of 17-to-6, meaning cannabis treatment could soon be more easily available to patients with more conditions.

The bill, H.S.B. 607, would allow both production and distribution of cannabis oil in Iowa, but not all medical conditions would be covered. Senate legislation passed last year covered more than 10 conditions. The House bill this session pares it down to three: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and terminal cancer.

Advocates spent the afternoon pleading for a healthier future.

Wednesday's arguments for easier access to medical cannabis oil were strong but they didn't come without push-back.

"It has been shown that when medical marijuana use is talked about, Iowa and all the youth across the nation, perception of risk with marijuana has gone down," one speaker said.

Democratic State Representative John Forbes, from Urbandale, said, "I don't like to pick winners and losers when it comes to medical care and I think that's something that we've done."

"In order to get enough people on board to support the bill, it had to be scoped back. The other thing was it was a 25-page controversial bill we simply cannot process something that large that controversial in less than a week," said Republican State Representative Guy Vander Linden, who is from Oskaloosa.

Both Democrats and Republicans say they will continue to do the best they can to help Iowans and advocates are hopeful.

"Time is of the essence so I ask that you pass this and that you pass this quickly," one mother said.

Changes to this bill also include how many facilities would be able to make and distribute the oil. Originally, there would have been 12 dispensaries and four manufacturers. This proposal calls for two facilities for both.

It now moves onto the Ways and Means committee.

UPDATE: The bill has passed the Commerce committee 17-6.

The bill will now move to the House floor for debate.


PREVIOUS STORY: A medical marijuana bill being considered by a subcommittee passed unanimously.

The latest version of the bill (HSB 607) includes amendments to cover three medical conditions: epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and terminal cancer and two facilities to produce and dispense.

The bill is slated to be discussed in the Commerce committee at 3 pm Wednesday.

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