The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board voted Friday to remove untreatable pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis and to replace it with chronic pain.
The decision will give more leeway and qualify more patients to participate in Iowa’s medical marijuana program, which currently includes seizures, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Separately, the board denied to allow generalized anxiety disorder as well as opioid dependence as qualifying conditions.
The board voted to delay a decision on allowing post-traumatic stress disorder to be a qualifying condition until its November meeting.
During the public comment session, speakers from Iowa’s medical marijuana dispensaries as well as state legislators addressed the board.
MedPharm general manager Lucas Nelson said the time to act is now.
„Today we are at a critical point in our program,” Nelson said. „There is no longer time to proceed slowly.”
Nelson previously expressed concerns for Iowa’s medical marijuana industry after Illinois passed a law, legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
More: Marijuana will soon be legal in Illinois. What does that mean for Iowans?
“There is no doubt in my mind that patients will forgo options in Iowa to go to Illinois and bring marijuana back,” Nelson previously told the Des Moines Register. „We know people do that already; they’ve been vocal with legislators about it.
“There’s been a failure to recognize that people are suffering, and traditional medicine has left them behind, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to get relief.”
„It’s time to face facts,” state Sen. Joe Bolkcom said. „You’ve created the worst program in the country. In Iowa, the medicine is too expensive and not potent enough to help most people. Patients want choice and want the choice of medical cannabis.”
„Either they (Iowans) are compelled to break Iowa law or self medicate,” state Sen. Claire Celsi said. „We’re on the wrong side of history going down the wrong road here. Every other state has gone in a different direction and that should tell us something.”
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Friday’s meeting was the first since Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed an expansion of Iowa’s medical marijuana program in May.
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 at the time 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.
Gage Miskimen is a news reporter mostly covering West Des Moines, Waukee, and Clive for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or 515-284-8234. Follow him on Twitter @gagemisky
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