Medical Marijuana Activist Thinking of Leaving Iowa after No Legislative Progress

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DES MOINES, Iowa --  After more than a month behind schedule, the 2015 legislative session wrapped up on Friday and some Iowans say lawmakers left behind a lot of unfinished business.

Senate File 484, a bill to expand medical marijuana uses, didn't make the cut this session. In April, the Senate passed a bill allowing for Iowans with a wide range of health problems to have access to the drug. It also allowed for it to be produced and distributed in limited quantities in the state.

However, the bill never made it out of the House.

Shannon Peterson suffers from Crohn’s disease and is disappointed in the bill’s progress.

“It’s just hard for other people to understand and sympathize when you're sick all the time,” Peterson said.

For more than 30 years, Crohn’s disease has made eating difficult for Peterson. It’s an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the intestines. Peterson takes dozens of pills every day to cope with the disease and receives infusions every month. The disease is among a list of others the bill would allow people to treat with marijuana.

“The last time I was in the hospital the doctors prescribed me marinol, which is a synthetic marijuana basically made by the drug companies. Apparently that was OK to give to me but I can't have organic? It just doesn't make sense,” Peterson said.

In the last year, Peterson has made two trips to Denver for cannabis oil treatments. She claims it’s the only drug that works.

“It's the CBD, the cannabinoids. If you can get the oils it doesn't make you feel any different. It just makes your stomach settle,” she said. “It allows me to eat and it lets me keep food down long enough that I’m able to gain weight.”

After lawmakers failed to pass the bill last week, she says it was clear the emails, rallies and activism didn't matter.

“Just to get up, get out of the house, get dressed up and go down there is really hard to do,” Peterson choked up. “And they could care less.”

Peterson said she feels betrayed after the lawmakers she voted for in turned against a law that would affect hundreds of Iowans. She called them narrow-minded towards the benefits of cannabis oil.

“Maybe they don’t see it enough or they haven’t been around it enough to see that is for regular people. It’s not ‘Cheech and Chong’ driving around in the car with a big roach,” she laughed. “These are mothers and kids.”

Peterson is strongly considering placing her house on the market and moving to Colorado after this session’s lack of progress.

“I don't want to have to leave. I feel like I’m being forced to do nothing else. Either I live in civil disobedience or I move,” Peterson said.

Governor Branstad didn’t call for the rules to change regarding medical marijuana