DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was all smiles at the Med-Pharm Iowa cultivation facility in Des Moines on Thursday. After years of advocating, educating, and working with lawmakers, the company cut the ribbon on the building which will be supplying Iowans with medical cannabis.
General Manager Lucas Nelson says this day happened due to the hard work of advocates across the state, and his team at Med-Pharm.
“It gave me a goosebump or two, it's just such a special day, it's one that at times we certainly wondered if it would get here,” said Nelson.
Inside the facility you'll find growing rooms, flowering plants, the lab machinery where chemists extract the oils, and the bottling room. Nelson says they'll absolutely hit the December 1 deadline to have product on the dispensary shelves, but patient-advocates say there's still work to do. Deb Sears suffers from chronic pain brought on by a genetic condition.
“I do qualify under untreatable pain, but the problem I'm running into is it's very difficult to find a doctor that is willing to sign my medical cannabis card,” said Sears.
In his opening remarks Nelson acknowledged the work left to be done. He says Med-Pharm Iowa is working around the clock to educate doctors about the state’s medical marijuana program.
“I think there's this hesitancy at first and we certainly hear that, but once they're able to hear about how the program works and what their role is and ask questions, we've seen a lot of good response,” said Nelson.
Doctors around the state are not being asked to prescribe medical marijuana, but to sign off that their patient has one of the 10 qualifying conditions that makes them eligible for the product.
The medical marijuana bill was a bipartisan effort widely praised, but advocates say there can be improvements. Senator Joe Bolkcom (D) says advocates need to continue to make their voices heard next legislative session.
“No other state in the country has a cap on THC and virtually every other state has twice as many conditions covered under their law than we do. So, we've made a good start, we're celebrating today that good start but we have to continue to work to improve the bill,” said Bolkom.
Currently, every Med-Pharm product is limited to three percent THC. Removing the cap would let Med-Pharm produce more powerful versions of their medicine and allow patients to use less product at a time.