The Iowa Board of Pharmacy will meet today and could issue a recommendation to the Iowa Legislature that the state allow marijuana use for medical purposes. Board executive director Lloyd Jessen says hundreds of Iowans voiced their opinion on the issue during four public hearings around the state. Thousands of others sent board members emails.
Jessen says around 90% of the people who weighed-in on the issue said they are in favor of medical marijuana. Fourteen states allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients. Iowa could become the 15th state if the Board of Pharmacy agrees to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II. The move would allow state lawmakers to address the matter.
“If the board makes that recommendation they could either file their own bill for the next session or, if there are one or more legislators interested in doing that now, I think they could do it now,” Jessen said. “But, it is getting late in the (legislative) session, so I don’t know if that would happen or not.”
In the past, the pharmacy board has declined to reclassify marijuana because of federal regulations prohibiting the medical use of pot. However, the Obama Administration announced in October the federal government would no longer interfere with states implementing medical marijuana laws. Jessen declined to speculate which way the seven board members might vote.
“I probably have a feeling for how it’s going to go, but I’m not going to say,” Jessen told Radio Iowa. Supporters of marijuana as medicine say it can help ease pain for patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Opponents say legalizing pot for medical purposes could make it easier for people to obtain the drug for recreational use.
A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released this week found 64% of Iowans feel doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana to their patients. Today’s Iowa Board of Pharmacy meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Des Moines. The meeting is open to the public, but Jessen says visitors will not be allowed to ask questions or make comments.