DES MOINES, Iowa -- Wednesday the Iowa Board of Pharmacy could take the first step toward making medical marijuana more accessible for Iowans.
The board will decide whether to recommend re-classifying marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug.
Marijuana's classification goes back decades to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 when each drug was put into a classification known as a ‘Schedule.’ The schedule lists its medical value and potential for abuse.
Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I, which is a drug with no proven or acceptable medication use with a high abuse potential.
Other drugs in Schedule I include heroin and ecstasy.
Proponents want marijuana re-classified as a Schedule II, which is still listed as a high potential for abuse but is currently accepted as a medical treatment.
Other drugs in Schedule II include meth, cocaine and oxycodone.
“Marijuana does not pose as serious of a public health problem as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine,” says Retired Des Moines Doctor Edward Hertko.
Hertko gave his thoughts on the issue Monday to three members of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy. Hertko said alcohol, tobacco and even an item you would find in your pantry is more dangerous than marijuana.
“Sugar is legal and taxed, it causes hundreds of thousands of deaths due to obesity and diabetes,” says Hertko.
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended marijuana be moved to Schedule II five years ago, but it wasn't approved by the legislature. Since then the board has always turned down requests for re-classification.
“We regulate pharmacy and we believe it`s way beyond our scope to make a recommendation that needs to be a broad-based recommendation and that`s where we`ve been in the past,” says board member Edward Maier.
However, with the approval of Iowa's current medical marijuana legislation, the board listened to those on both sides of the issue and will once again vote on re-classification.
“There`s now been a cannabinoid law passed which makes it a little more compelling and narrows it down,” says Maier.
The Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy as well as several other groups testified against re-classification.
The full seven member Iowa Board of Pharmacy will meet Wednesday morning to vote on the issue.
The board can vote yes, no or vote to table to decision pending more discussion.
If approved, the recommendation would go to the legislature for approval, if passed there it would be sent to the Governor.