Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa vetoed a bill that would have expanded the state’s medical cannabis program. In blocking the said legislation, she cited health and safety concerns.
Limitations of the current bill and the changes introduced
Iowa’s current medical cannabis program is about five years old, with more than 2,800 people carrying active registration cards that allow them to participate in the program.
However, a lot of patients find the program inadequate when it comes to treating their conditions and symptoms. The bill tries to address these limitations.
The medical cannabis expansion bill would have increased the allowed potency of legal pot. Currently, legal medical cannabis products should not exceed a 3-percent THC content cap. But with the expansion measure, patients can get a one-time prescription for 25 grams of medical cannabis over a 90-day period.
Aside from the THC limit, the current program only allows the use of extracts, capsules, tinctures, lotions, and ointments. Smoking and vaping cannabis are prohibited.
What’s more, signing the bill would have allowed for felons to become medical cannabis patients. It would also have required the state’s health officials to collect and review data for a better understanding as to the benefits and risks of cannabis to patients.
Additionally, the bill would have expanded the definition of “health care practitioner” in order to allow better access to treatment. It also would have changed the term “untreatable pain” to “severe or chronic pain” on the list of debilitating medical conditions in order to allow wider access.
It would likewise have allowed patients with terminal conditions a waiver for an unlimited amount of THC in their cannabis products.
Why veto the bill?
Reynolds said she vetoed the bill because the cap would still allow a patient to consume more THC in a day than an illegal user would.
“We need to be cautious and narrow about how we move forward,” Reynolds said. She told reporters that she wants a more balanced approach to the issue.
She also pointed out that she does not support recreational cannabis, and that she just felt that the proposed legislation was “too much of a jump.”
Many are not happy
Supporters of the bill are not happy about Reynolds’ decision. They argued that expansion is necessary because the 3-percent cap hinders the effectiveness of medical cannabis against most ailments and symptoms.
Reynolds, however, said that she consulted with the state medical cannabis board, which recommended a prescription limit of only 4.5 grams per 90 days.
This board is composed of eight physicians and one law enforcement officer, all appointed by the governor. Its task is to oversee the medical cannabis program and to recommend changes to legislators as it sees fit.
Reynolds promised that she would continue to work with the board and with the lawmakers regarding the potential expansion of the program moving forward. According to her, she’s all in for “finding a balance.”