Naysayers Say Iowans Should be Cautious of Cannabis Oil Bill

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- For the third year, lawmakers are considering a medical cannabis bill, a bill supporters think could gain approval from both chambers.

"If the Iowa Legislature, this building had any shred of decency, any compassion whatsoever, this bill would have been passed years ago,” said Jeff Shipley, of Jefferson County.

A new, scaled-back cannabis oil bill unveiled Wednesday could be the key to getting medical cannabis to more people who need it.

"To focus it in a way that it can be both meaningful and impactful and face a reality of moving it forward in both chambers,” Rep. Zach Nunn House Republican said at the statehouse Wednesday.

House Study Bill 607 would allow the manufacturing and dispensing of cannabis oil to individuals with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and terminal cancer with the life expectancy less than a year.

The conversation Wednesday gave some a glimmer of hope.

“Today my son is 234 days seizure free. I think these faces say a lot it shows his progression on how the drugs were treating him. Now he's walking, talking, playing,” a woman told legislators.

But those against the bill say it's not that simple.

"When we look at marijuana use and actions of youth in other states with medical marijuana programs, we will see an increase in youth marijuana use,” said Peter Komendowski, of Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa.

Emotional supporters say they don't know what negative effects it may have in Iowa, but they are certain what it can do

“Now is the time to make treatment available to Iowans to help all those suffering from epilepsy, as well as other debilitating medical conditions,” said Sally Gaer, whose daughter, Margaret, suffers from seizures.

Margaret is 26 and has been prescribed 16 non-successful medications that all came with side effects such as vomiting, rapid heart rate, back pain, blurred vision tremors and increased seizures.

“Since starting the oil, her seizures have reduced. She's been sleeping thorough the night for the first time in her life,” Gaer said to a room full of lawmakers.

Naysayers urge Iowa to be cautious.

“I don't think this is the venue or the way to achieve the success we want that's credible and scientifically reasonable and the healthiest application of medicine for Iowans,” Komendowski said.

But others are running out of time for a better life.

"Look these suffering patients in the eye, and tell them that you know better than they do,” Shipley said.

The bill passed in both the subcommittee and commerce committee Wednesday and can now move to the House floor.