Medical Marijuana Bill Making Its Way Through Legislative Process

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- "It`s been really hard, you know, we`ve had legislators try different tactics and it`s been hard and it`s been frustrating, but today is really rewarding," said Sally Gaer of West Des Moines Wednesday at the Iowa State Capitol.

Gaer has been an advocate for medical marijuana for years and was successful in lobbying to get possession of cannabis oil legalized in Iowa in 2014. "In 2014, we were always told there was no way we would get a bill so at the end of the session, when we got a bill, I mean we were just elated, but at the same time we knew other Iowans had been left out who did not have intractable epilepsy."

Those other Iowans would be included if this new bill becomes law. "I`m very optimistic. A lot of work has been done behind the scenes by our legislators and they`ve been very careful and thoughtful moving forward and I think we`re gonna go this time," said Gaer.

Gaer's not the only one who's optimistic. So, is Senator Charles Schneider, Republican of West Des Moines. "I’m confident that we have the support to get it through the Senate and I’m confident that we’ll be able to find some kind of accommodation with the House, some kind of agreement with the house and with the Governor’s Office to get something done this year," said Schneider. "I can’t guarantee that it will look like the bill that’s currently in the Senate, because we do want to take into consideration what the House has to say and what the Governor’s Office has to say, but I think it’s important that we do work together collaboratively to try and do something for the benefit of all Iowans," said Schneider.

Senator Schneider introduced the bill in the appropriations committee, which he chairs, and he has been involved with this issue for the past few years.

"It`s something I've just gotten to learn more about as I've been in the Legislature. There are a lot of constituents in my own district who've asked me to be supportive of this and to find accommodations for people who've really tried just about everything else they can to accommodate the symptoms they have to try and get better. If it`s not for them, maybe it`s for their kids or a loved one or family member."

And despite resistance from lawmakers to medical marijuana in the past, Schnedier says how people view this subject has changed. "Part of it's just out of comfort level. People (are) more comfortable talking about the issue. Part of it's because of education. I think a lot of legislators have taken time to learn more about this and how it can help people who need alternatives to traditional medicine. So, all of those things I think have helped to change attitudes and change minds and galvanize support for it."