The Iowa Board of Pharmacy today voted unanimously to hold a series of public hearings about whether the state should legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The board is charged with making a recommendation to the legislature on whether to reclassify the drug. Board member Deeann Wedemeyer-Oleson, a registered pharmacist, says state law lists criteria for reclassifying drugs.
That criteria includes the clinical benefits of the particular drug, the risks of its use and a toxicology analysis. The public hearings will be held statewide between August and November. Then, the board will consider making a recommendation to lawmakers. Wedemeyer Oleson says the board will weigh the medical benefits as well as the risks.
"I think a lot of people have this impression that if there’s any clinical benefit to marijuana, then we need to move it to a different controlled substance class. But when you look at the criteria, it’s not only medical benefit but what are the medical risks," Wedemeyer-Oleson said.
A bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana failed to advance at the statehouse last year. Thirteen U.S. states have made medical marijuana legal.