The law allowing the limited use of medical cannabidiol (CBD) in Iowa was signed in 2017. And registered patients in the state will finally be able to get their hands on legal cannabis products as five dispensaries open their doors on Saturday.
The Medical Cannabidiol Act
Then-Governor Terry Branstad signed the Medical Cannabidiol Act into law in 2017. The new law allows up to two in-state operations to cultivate cannabis plants and process CBD products with up to 3 percent THC content. These CBD products will be distributed by five medical cannabis dispensaries approved by the state.
The Medical Cannabidiol Act is an update to a 2014 law that decriminalized cannabis oil for people suffering from epilepsy. This new law was modeled after Minnesota’s regulations, which have been put in place for years.
For patients to qualify for CBD-based treatment, they need a doctor to certify that they have one of the several approved medical conditions that can be treated with CBD. A board has been tasked to oversee and update the law with regard to doctor’s certification, in conjunction with the Iowa Board of Medicine.
State law requires everything to already be operational by Dec. 1, 2018.
Iowa’s law defines medical cannabidiol as any approved cannabis strain, but only with up to 3 percent of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
The law allows pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extracts, which can include inhaled products like nebulizers. However, the company making all legal medical cannabis products for sale in the state — MedPharm — only sells tinctures, capsules, and creams.
Iowa patients with any “debilitating medical condition” can obtain a prescription for the drug. These include cancer patients suffering from severe or chronic pain, severe vomiting, nausea, or severe wasting. Also qualified are patients who have:
– multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
– epileptic seizures
– Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
– Crohn’s disease
– Parkinson’s disease
– untreatable pain
Patients who are terminally ill, with a life expectancy of less than a year, and who suffer from severe pain, nausea, severe wasting, and severe vomiting are also qualified to use medical cannabis.
Iowa’s Board of Medicine is also taking a look at including severe, intractable pediatric autism with aggressive or injurious behavior in the list of qualified conditions.
Patient application and registration process
In order to obtain cannabidiol products, patients or primary caregivers are first required to download a registration form, then take the form to their doctors and have them sign it. This means that a doctor is certifying that the patient has one of the qualifying conditions.
Patients who have already been certified by their doctors must then complete a registration application and submit this along with the form signed by their doctor. They also need to include a $100 fee for the patient registration card and a valid ID photo.
The Iowa Department of Public Health then notifies the patients if their application has been approved. Qualified patients and caregivers can then go to their Department of Transportation Office to get their registration card.
Patients and caregivers with valid registration cards can now visit one of five medical cannabidiol dispensaries around the state to get their medication.
Many doctors are still hesitant
Of the state’s more than 7,000 doctors, only about 325 have certified patients to qualify for medical cannabidiol. This is partly because majority of them are still not comfortable about the role they play in the new medical cannabis program.