Mixed Emotions Over Governor Vetoing Medical Marijuana Expansion

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Both sides of the aisle came together to expand Iowa's medical marijuana program last month. But on Friday, the governor used her executive powers to block it.

Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed the medical marijuana expansion bill at the end of the day, heading into a holiday weekend and just days before her 30-day timeline ran out.

The bill would have increased the level of THC a person could be prescribed to up to 25 grams in a 90-day period. Currently law only allows for three grams.

The governor issued a statement saying if the bill was approved "it would drastically expand Iowa’s medical CBD program far beyond its original scope of CBD-based treatments and that could open the door to significant unintended consequences to the health and safety of Iowans."

She also said it would have shifted the limits of the psychoactive chemical, THC, beyond what the medical cannabidiol board would recommend.

“That’s the whole reason why we are doing this bill, to relieve pain. I thought it was alternative to the epidemic we are having in Iowa in regard to opioids," said State Sen. Brad Zaun said.

John Forbes, a state representative and Urbandale pharmacist, said the veto is "distressing news for thousands of sick and vulnerable Iowans who deserve greater access to this life-changing medication."

MedPharm Iowa was disappointed by news of the veto, saying that the governor and medical cannabidiol advisory board have failed to support Iowa patients and the bill would have fixed Iowa’s deeply flawed medical cannabis program while also keeping it one of the strictest in the country.

But not everyone is upset by the veto.

Iowa Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh supports the governor's decision saying, "The medical cannabidiol board was concerned with the amount of THC patients would have been allowed to access."

The Department of Public Safety says they look forward to helping with legislation that moves the cannabidiol program forward, while balancing the potential risks of abuse to the community.

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