A ruling from a judge in Polk County could clear the way for Iowa lawmakers to potentially approve marijuana use for medical purposes. The ruling forces the Iowa Pharmacy Board to examine whether marijuana should continue to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under Iowa law. Attorney Randall Wilson argued the case for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. "What it does is it reopens the official discussion about marijuana policy in Iowa," Wilson said of the ruling.
Four petitioners asked the Iowa Pharmacy Board to review the drug’s classification last year. The board ruled that the petitioners had to prove that the drug lacked a high potential for abuse before it would be reclassified. The ACLU of Iowa appealed the decision. Wilson says the judge’s ruling only "unfreezes" the debate and does not legalize medicinal marijuana use in the state. "Only the legislature can make that decision ultimately," Wilson said. "The (pharmacy) board can’t move marijuana from Schedule One, but the legislature told the board…when a substance no longer meets the criteria for being in Schedule I, you will recommend to us that it will be placed somewhere else."
Currently, under Iowa law, narcotic drugs like opiates and cocaine can be prescribed for medical use. Wilson believes Iowa should join other states that have added marijuana to the list of drugs available for medical purposes. There are currently 13 states in the U.S. that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes under a doctor’s supervision. Wilson says the drug can help people that are battling such diseases as cancer and AIDS. "There are a lot of people out there who have very debilitating conditions that seem to be only served or helped by using marijuana," Wilson said. "In view of that fact, medical marijuana use is going to go on underground…it would be better to get it out in the open and have it supervised by doctors and established criteria for who really needs to be using marijuana and who shouldn’t."