September 2, 2014

Advocates fret over new Iowa law decriminalizing cannabis oil possession

Advocates of a new state law that allows Iowans with severe epilepsy to use cannabis oil as a treatment say they’re not sure the cards issued by the State of Iowa will let them buy the product in other states or will even protect them from prosecution.

Raymond Lakers is an Iowan who has multiple sclerosis. He moved to Colorado Springs so he could legally buy marijuana there, but he doubts the Iowa children who suffer from a rare form of epilepsy will be able to get cannabis oil there.

“Every Iowan right now that wants to obtain any form of medical marijuana in the state Iowa, they are criminals — even these children — and it breaks my heart,” he said.

Iowa Department of Public Health officials held a public hearing this morning (Tuesday) on the rules they’ve drafted to administer the new law. Deborah Thompson, the department’s policy advisor, says her agency will review applications and the DOT will issue the cards that show the person has permission to possess cannabis oil. The goal is to have the system up and running by the end of the year.

“With any new program that becomes implemented, it is a lengthy process with a lot of moving parts,” she said. “But we do respect the fact that people wants this very quickly and we’re doing the best we can.”

Some people who participated in the hearing spoke in favor of expanding the law so marijuana could be used as treatment for other diseases. Linda Gale of Sioux City joined the hearing over a video conferencing system.

“I’m glad they made the first step, but there’s many other people that suffer that should not have to suffer like they do,” she said.

Gale has Crone’s Disease and she would like to use marijuana rather than prescription narcotics to control her nausea and other symptoms.

Conference focuses on preventing human trafficking and abuse

The “Iowa Preventing Abuse” conference opens tomorrow in Cedar Rapids. Preventing Abuse Foundation president, Tony Nassif, says they will focus on several points. “One, the human trafficking, child abduction/exploitation, drug cartels, the border crisis and basically protecting women, children and families,” Nassif says.

He says the conference has a couple of goals: “We’re going to focus on educating the people, motivating them to act, and showing them what they can do to be part of the solution,” according the Nassif. Nassif has been conducting the conferences for more than 10 years and has held several in Iowa. “The first thing that we focused on was child abduction, the single abductor. Because at that time I didn’t know about human trafficking — this goes back 10-15 years,” Nassif says. “Then I started getting connections of information about what is called human trafficking. Then I got connected to the White House, State Department.” He says they continued adding on connections to federal agencies and other organizations as their scope grew.

Nassif says the southern border crisis has become an issue too, as he says the open border is a pipeline for the drug cartels to conduct drug and human trafficking. “And so there’s a very vast connection to the opens borders, human trafficking, the drug cartels, and now they are linking into the gangs,” Nassif says.

A variety of state and national speakers will make presentations at the conference. Nassif says Iowa may not seem like it has any connection to the big city drug cartels and gangs, but he says “People who think the drug cartels are operating in big cities, the human trafficking is in big cities, let me tell you something. At my last conference in Cedar Rapids, my experts — not opinions, we don’t deal with opinions — my expects showed maps of the activities of the drug cartels in Iowa, Iowa. And we are going to expound on that at this conference,” Nassif says.

The interstate highways that run across Iowa are a link to the trafficking. “One of the biggest problems have been the truck stops. Now there are groups that are fighting it, but the thing is, this country is a sinkhole 10 minutes before it is going to collapse,” according to Nassif. “And our call, our clarion call, is to trumpet the warning that — yes there’s a problem — but we’ve got the solution.”

Nassif says there are still a few spots open at the conference and you can register by going to


California men arrested on drug charges after traffic stop in Cass County

Two people from California were arrested on drug charges after a stop by police in western Iowa’s Cass County. Authorities say a vehicle occupied by Saul Muro and Bianca Azucena Muro, of Los Angeles, was pulled over at around 10 p.m. Monday during a routine traffic stop.

After questioning the driver and passenger, the vehicle was searched, resulting in the discovery of 4 kilos of cocaine and 5 pounds of marijuana that was hidden in a compartment under the driver’s and passenger side seats.

The pair faces charges that include possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, and marijuana. Saul Muro was also wanted on a federal warrant with the U.S. Marshal’s Service for amphetamine sales. The Muros were seen by a magistrate, who set their bond at $22,000.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic


Large amount of pot found in railcar in Oelwein

A  large amount of pot was discovered on a train in Oelwein. Oelwein police say workers with Transco Railway called Friday morning after finding the suspicious packages while preparing to perform maintenance on a railcar.

Investigators say the packages will hidden in the wall of the railcar and contained marijuana. Police say there were a total of 45 packages that weighed approximately 61 pounds. The street value of the pot is estimated at $90,000.

Oelwein police don’t believe the pot was headed for their city as the car was diverted for maintenance. They are trying to determine the source and destination of the shipment.

(Reporting by Roger King, KOEL, Oelwein)


Dubuque man sentenced for involvement in meth fire

An eastern Iowa man will spend time in a federal prison after his apartment building caught fire in a meth-making operation. Forty-seven-year-old Donald Sheldon pled guilty to aiding and abetting the manufacture of meth within one-thousand yards of a school.

Court records show Sheldon allowed Joshuah Tiesman to use his apartment to make meth and the meth lab exploded, starting the apartment building and an adjoining building on fire. Sheldon was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to make nearly 95-thousand dollars in restitution to the fire victims.


Eastern Iowa man sentenced on drug charges

An eastern Iowa man will spend more than 10 years in prison on drug charges. A U.S. District Court judge sentenced 28-year-old Luis Chavez Preciado to 151 months in prison for charges related to distributing methamphetamine.

Court records show between May and September of 2013 he conspired with others to distribute ice methamphetamine in the Iowa City and Muscatine areas. Undercover officers made several purchases of the ice meth from a person who was being supervised by Preciado. Police seized a large amount of meth, digital scales, a shotgun and other items after searching Preciado’s Iowa City residence.


Mother of slain Evansdale girl sentenced to prison

Misty Cook-Morrissey

Misty Cook-Morrissey

The mother of one of two girls who were kidnapped in Evansdale in 2012 and later found dead is going to prison on drug charges. Misty Cook-Morrissey pled guilty this week to two counts of delivery of methamphetamine in Fayette County District Court. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Morrissey in November for selling drugs out of her West Union home. Morrissey is the mother of Lyric Cook, who disappeared with her cousin, Elizabeth Collins, in July 2012. Their bodies were found five months later in a rural area of Bremer County.

No arrests have been made in their deaths. Lyric Cook’s father, Daniel Morrissey, was sentenced in September to up to 90 years in prison on drug charges.