The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is recommending state lawmakers reclassify marijuana for medical use. With one member absent, six members of the board voted unanimously to ask legislators to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule One drug, for which there are no permitted uses, to a Schedule Two drug, which allows for medical uses.
Board chair Vernon Benjamin, a pharmacist from Fort Madison, says declaring marijuana legal for medical purposes may help researchers determine the healing effects of the drug.
“It’ll change it into an acceptable medical use so that places that do need to do the research on it are going to have the capability of getting the product and not feeling like they’re going to be breaking the law,” Benjamin said. The Pharmacy Board is asking the legislature to create a task force — that would include patients, medical professionals and law enforcement officers — to come up with a way to safely put in place a medical marijuana program.
Today’s decision follows a series of four public hearings last fall. Around 90% of the people who spoke at those public hearing or sent emails to the Pharmacy Board said they support medical marijuana. Benjamin says that testimony was convincing. “We’re just saying that the medical and scientific evidence that was put forth in those meetings and all the literature we received…that there was a basis for changing the drug so that further research could go on,” Benjamin said.
It’s unlikely the legislature will take action this session. The medical marijuana bills introduced this year died in committee.