The Democratic candidate for governor is challenging Republican Governor Terry Branstad to act quickly on legislation that would give patients with chronic epilepsy the new treatment of option of cannabis oil.
Jack Hatch is also a state senator who voted for the bill last week and Hatch this morning said Branstad should not “hide behind” his authority to take the full month governors have to make a decision to sign or veto a bill.
“I would hope that the governor will come out this week and sign that bill, to acknowledge that it means so much to these mothers and fathers and that they can start working on eliminating the pain to their children as soon as possible,” Hatch told reporters during a statehouse news conference. “That’s what a governor is supposed to do. That’s the leadership we expect.”
Governor Branstad, during his own weekly news conference earlier this morning, told reporters the legislature’s staff hasn’t delivered a printed copy of the bill to his office.
“As all pieces of legislation that pass, I reserve judgment until I see it in its final form,” Branstad said. “We have not received this bill yet.”
Branstad said he wants to make sure there are no “unintended consequences” if he signs the bill.
“This is not something that’s been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration,” Branstad said. “…I think we’ve got to be very careful and thoughtful about this.”
Hatch said Branstad is putting the parents of children with “intractable” epilepsy who lobbied for the bill in limbo.
“We do have scientific research that it helps,” Hatch said. “We know how it could help individuals.”
And Hatch said it’s time to set aside the “cultural biases of the past” and allow patients with other chronic diseases like cerebral palsy and arthritis to take this non-intoxicating cannabis oil.
“When you have something that looks so good for medical purposes, we’ve got to grow up and understand what it does for people,” Hatch said.
A few legislators would go a step further and vote for a law like California’s that allows patients to smoke pot if they have a prescription, but Governor Branstad said most Iowa legislators oppose the “wide open” use of marijuana.
“Philosophically, I do not agree with what’s happened in Colorado and I’ve heard from all kinds of people — from economic development people, from business people, from bankers and others that there’s all kinds of unintended consequences,” Branstad said this morning. “In California, even Governor Jerry Brown has expressed real concerns about what they have with their very wide-open medical marijuana legislation.”
Hatch said he’s not talking about smoking pot for recreational purposes. According to Hatch, if the state can legalize and regulate several different forms of gambling, it can surely legalize and regulate cannabis oil as treatment for the pain associated with chronic diseases.
“We have a very open and very secure and very honest gaming environment,” Hatch said. “Well, if we can do that, we can certainly be able to restrict cannabis oils in the way that we’ve intended.”
Hatch is the only Democrat running for governor.