New Qualifying Conditions on Track to be Added to Medical Marijuana Program

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The list of conditions which qualify for the state's medical marijuana program could expand in the new year after the Iowa Board of Medicine met Friday morning.

Similar to Crohn’s disease, the board voted to move adding ulcerative colitis to the final rule making step.  It could be on the books in 30 to 45 days. Meanwhile, the board considered starting the rule-making process for adding severe pediatric autism for children who display self-injuring or aggressive behavior to the list.

“To have the opportunity to have this medication as an option is something that would be absolutely fantastic for families like ours,” Mary Roberts told the board.

Mary Roberts has two adult children with severe autism, they are non-verbal, and Roberts says she feels guilty giving them the medication that is currently available.

“Unfortunately, one of the only options we have right now is psychotropic medications, basically chemically restraining them,” she said.

The board voted to start the rule making process, but the current framework only allows it for children under the age of 18; leaving Robert's children on the outside looking in. She plans to file a petition to eliminate the age restriction on Monday.

Autism is a lifelong condition, and if people are prone to self-injury and aggression as children, likely that's something that’s going to need to be addressed in adulthood as well. It especially can be more challenging because they're bigger, they're stronger, and it's important that we're offering this option across the lifespan for people with autism,” said Roberts.

The first step of the process could take 60-90 days; another change that has started in the rule making process is allowing medical marijuana to be taken through vaporization or nebulization. Advocates say in many cases patients have a hard time swallowing medication and find it far easier to use a vaporizer.

MedPharm Iowa, the state's medical marijuana supplier, says they have already started work on vapor formulas. MedPharm says if the rule is adopted they hope to have the new product on the shelves day one.

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