Key leaders say it is unlikely the 2011 Iowa legislature will vote to allow Iowans to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Senate President Jack Kibbie drew chuckles at a forum earlier this month when he was asked about the issue. “I would doubt it would be addressed. You know, many years ago I think I co-sponsored that,” Kibbie said of a bill that would have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana. “But today I’ve got three daughters who are social workers in this state. They say, ‘No way, dad!'”
Representative Linda Upmeyer, a nurse, will be the Republican leader in the Iowa House in 2011. “With my health care background, I’ve found this sort of an interesting debate to watch,” Upmeyer said. “You know, first of all, we have the components of a synthetic medical marijuana available today.”
Advocates of allowing physicians to prescribe cannabis say smoking marijuana helps cancer patients deal with nausea and a lack of appetite and helps patients with other conditions, like those who suffer from glaucoma. But Upmeyer questions whether medical marijuana laws around the country are working properly.
“You look at the other states that have done that and in many of those states, the medical marijuana is essentially a way for people that want to use marijuana to use it,” she said. “And so I don’t think it’s probably what the law enforcement folks in this state are probably going to be interested in supporting.”
The two legislators made their comments earlier this month at Drake University in a forum organized by IowaPolitics.com. Two other key lawmakers at the forum said they doubted the legislature would address the issue. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy put it this way: “In terms of the priorities that we have, medical marijuana on a list of maybe 1000 is 1011. It’s just not up there.”
Officials on the Iowa Board of Pharmacy have been debating the issue for the past couple of years. A state law from the 1970s that’s still on the books technically gives the board authority to reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance and allow it to be dispensed under a doctor’s prescription, but the board has asked the legislature to weigh in on the matter and establish a task force which would decide how marijuana could be dispensed.