DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for ailing Iowans, although the proposal faces strong resistance in the Republican-controlled House, the Des Moines Register reports.
The vote was approved 26-19 with five lawmakers excused from voting. The 26 votes represented the fewest number of votes required for a bill to be passed under the Iowa Constitution.
Senate File 484 would allow Iowans with a range of health problems to obtain medical marijuana. Those conditions could include cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic and debilitating ailments. The bill would allow up to four producers to grow marijuana in Iowa with oversight from state officials. It would also allow independent dispensaries to sell the drug.
The bill now heads to the Iowa House, where House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, has said he has no plans to consider approving medical marijuana this session. Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, who is a cardiology nurse practitioner, has said any decision on legalizing medical marijuana should be determined by the federal Food and Drug Administration, not state lawmakers.
About 75 supporters of medical marijuana, many with serious ailments, rallied at the Iowa Capitol last week in support of legalizing the drug. Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, signed legislation last year that decriminalizes the use of marijuana oil for children suffering from severe epileptic seizures. But Branstad has said he is concerned about "unintended consequences" of legalizing medical marijuana and has opposed legislation broadening last year's law.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug, although many states permit medical use of the drug. The agency has, however, approved one drug containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and another drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana.