February 18, 2010

Medical Marijuana in Iowa?

February 18, 2010

Is Iowa set to become the 15th state to approve medical marijuana? The chances of it happening are very good, but not for a couple years. On Wednesday, the Iowa Pharmacy Board voted unanimously to recommend that the state Legislature move forward on medical marijuana research and legislation. The Board also recommended that marijuana’s classification be switched, from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. Schedule 2 controlled substances have potential for abuse, but have accepted medical uses.

The Board recommendations came after four public meetings, where proponents gave testimony about the need for a medical program in Iowa and the rescheduling of marijuana (see the link for the ACLU press release). The issue was originally raised in 2008 when the ACLU and Carl Olsen, co-founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, petitioned the Pharmacy Board to reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. Originally, the board rejected the request, until a judge issued an injunction requiring the Board to review the classification listing to see if marijuana had any medical uses. After the public hearings, the Board voted 6-0 in favor of medical marijuana. That is one hell of a turnaround, considering they didn’t even want to look into it less than a year ago!! It’s amazing what happens when people put their personal views aside and look at the medical benefits of marijuana through an objective lens.

Now it is up to the Iowa legislature to create a committee to explore ways to administer a medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, the legislative session is likely to end by late March, and there won’t be time to create a committee this year. However, 2011 is looking very promising for medical marijuana in Iowa. This is a very significant victory for not just medical marijuana in Iowa, but in the other 35 states in America that don’t have medical marijuana yet. The lawsuit that was filed by the ACLU and Mr. Olsen can be applied to every other state in the union. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance, which is an obvious misclassification. If the ACLU, along with state organizations, filed lawsuits in every state for the same reason, I predict the results would be the same as in Iowa. That is very exciting stuff!

Until medical marijuana comes to Iowa, Carl Olsen said he would keep pursuing his lawsuit. Cannabis fans around the nation need to give Mr. Olsen a big round of applause, because he may have started something that could sweep across the nation. Rescheduling marijuana is a vital step towards legalization, and it seems that Mr. Olsen has almost accomplished it in one of the most conservative states in the nation. I love his quote after the Board issued its decision. “If you’re a medical patient and you use marijuana for medical purposes, and you get arrested, your jury is going to be a whole lot more sympathetic today than it would have been yesterday,” Olsen said. “All the work I’ve put into this has paid off.” I tip my hat to you Mr. Olsen, you are amazing!!



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