Marijuana activist and Polk County resident Carl Olsen has filed a lawsuit in Iowa district court, claiming the state has unnecessarily delayed requesting federal exemption for its medical marijuana program – and Gov. Kim Reynolds has failed in her obligation to carry out the law.
Iowa Governor Sued Over Delayed Exemption Request for Marijuana Program
In September of last year, Iowa’s Department of Public Health (DPH) reached a decision. The state’s extremely limited medical marijuana program had clashed with federal law, and long-term care facilities were in jeopardy of losing federal funding due to patients receiving medical CBD. The department elected to submit a formal application, requesting a federal exemption from marijuana prohibition under the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“There’s no guarantee that they will do anything with that or respond to us, but…we will move forward with doing our best to minimize that conflict between state and federal law,” said the chair of Iowa’s Medical CBD Board. Despite the Department of Public Health’s initial comments, regulators haven’t moved forward with a formal exemption request — or any other attempt at a solution for that matter.
Olsen’s lawsuit cites three separate occasions when Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Board recommended the state obtain a federal exemption for the medical CBD program, in addition to signed documents from Iowa’s Governor and Attorney General calling for protections for institutions participating in the program.
The suit argues that “it is contrary to public interest” for Gov. Reynolds to continue delaying the federal exemption process, emphasizing the “threat to public safety” the lack of harmony between federal and state laws poses.
Speaking on the filing of his suit, Olsen explained that it’s “an attempt to get the state to explain why it is allowing people to suffer any longer without relief from federal drug laws. The state has gone silent about when it intends to file for the application.”
In a 2021 poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Mediacom Iowa Poll, 54% of adults favored legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and 78% favored expanding the medical marijuana program.
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