On May 30, 2014, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed SF 2360, allowing for legal use and/or possession of “CBD Cannabis Oil” with a maximum of no more than 3 percent (%) of THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol), by patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and uncontrollable seizure disorders. But patients meeting Iowa medical marijuana qualifications are caught in a Catch-22 when it comes to finding medicine to help relieve their symptoms.
Iowa law requires that all CBD be derived from a source out-of-state, and demands a non-smoked administration of the CBD, allowing only oral or transdermal administration. So, to obtain medicine that is legal in Iowa, patients must get their CBD from another state. And if they do that, they run the risk of breaking federal law, which prohibits the transport of a “controlled substance” across state lines — incredibly, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. That means patients who meet medical marijuana qualifications in Iowa will be breaking the law either way. They’ll either get their medical cannabis in-state in violation of the law, or they’ll be transporting it between states.
However, in May 2017 the governor signed House File 524, which will allow the Department of Public Health to approve companies to produce and sell cannabis with a THC content under 3%, so Iowa residents will soon be able to get cannabis in-state. The new medical marijuana advisory board, formed in September 2017, will address advocates’ concerns about raising the THC limit.
As the law stands as of this writing, the only patients who meet Iowa medical marijuana qualifications are those who suffer from intractable epilepsy. But in April 2017, a bill passed the Iowa Senate that would expand the medical cannabis program to include people suffering from a much wider range of health issues.
Patients in Iowa diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under the proposed Iowa Medical Marijuana law:
Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, ulcerative colitis, Tourette’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis
A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces intractable pain, a chronic or debilitating medical condition that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe nausea, certain seizures, or certain muscle spasms, or any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department of public health (department).
The medical marijuana advisory board is expected to recommend additional ailments that can qualify Iowa residents for medical marijuana cards. The board is expected to announce an expanded list of ailments in 2018.
Some medical marijuana patients will claim they have a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana, but marijuana prescriptions are in fact illegal. The federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug. Therefore, doctors are unable to prescribe marijuana to their patients, and medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana. Instead, medical marijuana doctors in Iowa will supply patients with a medical marijuana recommendation in compliance with state law.
Whereas previously Iowa seemed to take a short-sighted approach to medical marijuana, change is expected as the new advisory board begins to roll out information about how the medical marijuana program will change in the next two years. As new information is released about the expanding medical marijuana program in Iowa, we’ll also continue to provide information such as how to obtain an Iowa medical cannabis card and much more.