DES MOINES, Iowa -- The push for an expanded medical marijuana program in Iowa took a major step forward Wednesday morning.
Senate Study Bill 1190, or the "Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act", made it’s way out of subcommittee and is now closer to debate on the floor.
“I am very pleased that this we will move this forward and I’m recommending that we move senate study bill 1190 to the full committee,” said Iowa State Senator Tom Greene, a Burlington Republican.
When Sen. Greene, signed off he made the day of many advocates like Karrie Anderson, who’ve been fighting for this day for years.
“I can’t believe we are here. I’m a little taken aback,” said Karrie Anderson, National MS Society.
The bill has floundered in both the House and Senate for over the past couple years but today Iowa state Sen. Joe Bolkcom believes they’ve figured out how to make it work.
“I think we have the right conditions. We’ve established a medical advisory board to advise us on how to run the program most effectively by looking at what’s working in other states,” said Sen. Bolkcom, “It’s a comprehensive medical cannabis program that responds to the needs of thousands of Iowans, who have petitioned the legislature for the last 3 years for some relief.”
As it stands now, the program will allow medical cannabis use to alleviate symptoms associated with almost 20 conditions that include PTSD, cancer and Parkinson's. Lawmakers credit the stories they’ve heard from Iowans affected like Sally Gear whose daughter suffers from a seizure disorder.
“It feels really good. It feels like all the times of advocacy and encouragement are starting to pay off,” said Gear.
“It’s time that we reward them with a passage of a meaningful program and i think there is an opportunity before we adjourn to do that,” said Sen. Bolkcom.
It still has make to it’s way through the House and Senate but Sen. Bolkcom is optimistic that it will. He attributes the work that both side of the aisle have put into this.
“I’ve been working behind the scene with this with my republican colleagues in a bipartisan way in the bill in front of us. I think we’ve worked together well. We really need now is the House to take a look at this and move something to help people,” said Bolkcom.
He hopes that it will be in both the house and senate over the next week. If it does get approve the program could be up and running by July 1, 2018.