Medical Marijuana Advocates Not Giving Up Hope, As Lawmakers Look to 2017

Apr 28, 2016

An expansion of Iowa’s medical cannabis law was defeated this week in the Iowa House, leading to an emotional reaction from affected families.

"I'm disappointed," says Sally Gaer. "I feel misled by the members of the House. We've been working on this for months, and what they did [Monday] night shows they have no conscience - pure and simple. They decided not to help Iowans most vulnerable because they, quite frankly, don't care."

The measure would have expanded the number of medical conditions covered by Iowa’s medical cannabis law, but Iowans would still have to travel to another state to purchase cannabidiol.

Chemical structure of cannabidiol
Credit Wikimedia Commons

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on why the bill didn’t pass, the possibility of a partnership with Minnesota where Iowans could purchase cannabidiol and bring it across state lines, as well as the larger question of the future of medical cannabis in Iowa.

"I had really hoped that this year; this year would be an opportunity," says Republican State Rep. Zach Nunn. "I've been working on this for 24 months."

Rep. Nunn sponsored the bill that was voted down by the House.

"So, while frustrating, we go back at it," Rep. Nunn says. "We've already started working with the public safety committee to draft new legislation. I think we're going to run out of time at the capitol this year for the legislative season, but that doesn't mean we can't put forward policy this summer, to start working with the families, and [say], 'Alright, let's have something lock stock so when we come back in January of 2017, we get it out.'"

This hour's guests include: Tony Leys, health reporter with the Des Moines Register, Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D),  Iowa Rep. Zach Nunn (R), Steve Gaer, the mayor of West Des Moines and cannabidiol advocate, and Minnesota Rep. Nick Zerwas (R).