Medical Marijuana Bid Defeated

Apr 26, 2016

Republicans in the Iowa House last night offered legislation to expand the number of medical conditions covered by Iowa’s medical cannabis law.  

But the legislation would still require Iowans to travel to another state, and it was defeated by a wide margin.  

The measure was debated as a bill to legalize the production and distribution of medical marijuana in Iowa remains stalled in the House.   

Under last night’s bill, Iowans would still have to travel to a limited number of states to purchase cannabis, but that could be expanded to nearby Minnesota.  

Cedar Falls Democrat Bob Kressig says right now, Minnesota’s law won’t allow that.

“We reached out to legislators in Minnesota and their answer was there was no way that they'll consider doing this,”   Kressig said.

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant Republican) says it’s not economically viable to grow and distribute cannabis here.   

“We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars to set up a grower, a distributor, security, quality assurance here in Iowa for under 800 people,” Nunn said.

Other Republicans argued against any expansion of access.  The bill was defeated by a vote of 31 to 63, with all Democrats voting against it.

The measure would have covered multiple sclerosis, AIDS, HIV, Crohn’s disease, and some terminal illnesses with a life expectancy of less than a year.

Iowa’s current medical cannabis law covers only epilepsy, and there are only three states where families can purchase it.     

Backers of the broader bill say they will try again to get a vote to manufacture and distribute medical marijuana in the state.

“I think to do this the right way would be to have dispensaries in Iowa, grow it in Iowa so that Iowans can get it directly in Iowa," said Rep. Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines).   “I’m very sorry we weren’t able to pass a comprehensive bill.”

Other Republicans argued partnering with another state would get the product to patients faster.

“Why not baby steps?” asked Rep. Josh Byrnes (R-Osage).

The House debated the measure for about three hours while activists who support medical marijuana looked on in the House gallery.