DES MOINES, Iowa -- July 1, 2019 was supposed to be a day of rejoicing for more than 3,000 Iowans registered and already taking part in the state's medical marijuana program.
"We've seen many patients in the state of Iowa who have reduced or gotten off opioid medication when they've switched to a medical cannabis program," said Democratic State Rep. and John Forbes.
Gov. Kim Reynolds' veto of a heavily bipartisan supported bill could have expanded medical cannabis use to 25 grams of THC from just three grams in a 90-day period. Forbes said, "When you have over 80 percent of Iowans in favor of medical cannabis to be used to treat medical conditions and you have a board stonewalling the progress here in the state of Iowa, I`m hopeful that the governor will take another look at the members."
Republican Sen. Brad Zaun believes new numbers could make relief in sight next session. "The bill said 25 grams. I speculate we are going to have lower that but I feel about 100 percent confident that we will get expansion for the people needing it for pain," said Zaun.
Illinois is already legalizing recreational use of marijuana in January of 2020. It is a year Zaun believes Iowans will see cannabis progress as well. He said, "I feel 100 percent confident we are going to be able to expand what is currently in law for people in pain and medical uses."
Supporters in Illinois see recreational use as a revenue windfall that other states may be missing out on. Zaun said, "When people talk about the taxes that will be generated, I'm just not interested."
That's where Iowa legislators are drawing a line that they won`t cross. However, the Illinois border is just 280 miles from Iowa's capital and that may be another story. Forbes said, "I have some concerns with their program going into effect January 1, 2020 that some Iowans may cross the border and get product and bring it back to Iowa which would be illegal. That could have an impact on the program here in Iowa."
It is a recreational program that Zaun believes Iowa should have no interest in. "I will not support recreational use of marijuana. I don`t believe Iowa is ready for it and I'm particularly concerned about younger people," said Zaun.