On a 36-12 vote, the Iowa Senate has passed legislation that would allow Iowans to act on a doctor’s recommendation and go out of state to get “non-intoxicating cannabis oil” for the treatment of “intractable epilepsy.” Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said it’s a “very narrowly focused” bill.
“The legislation before us is a product of our best bipartisan work, responding to the pleas of our constituents who have petitioned their government to help them end the suffering and negative quality of life most of us just simply cannot imagine,” Bolkcom said.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, choked up as he talked about the parents who have children that suffer from severe epilepsy who’ve repeatedly visited the statehouse to tell their stories to legislators.
“We have an opportunity to do something here today that’s pretty special and I want to thank the mothers for coming before us and having the courage to stand up when people were saying: ‘No,'” Dotzler said.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, also grew emotional as he told his fellow senators he had initially opposed the concept because his father and four brothers all had drug addiction issues.
“I’m convinced that the bill before us and the work that has gone into it will ensure that the kind of things that have happened to my family will not happen to other Iowa families because we say yes,” Danielson said. “…This is as narrow of a bill that you could propose.”
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, said this bill sends the wrong message to teenagers.
“I’ve worked with teens in prevention for a long time,” Boettger said. “Teens are going to see ‘Iowa Approves Marijuana Oil.’…Even though my heart really goes out to those parents, I want us to consider the story of these other teens all across Iowa who are going to see these headlines that we do not control and get the wrong impression.”
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, warned of the bill’s negative consequences.
“We don’t control the public perception out there,” Johnson said. “We are sending a signal, whether we like it or not, that marijuana is o.k.” Johnson wound up voting in favor of the bill.
Senator Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines who voted for the bill, says he’s not in favor of “opening the door” to recreational marijuana either.
“This bill, however, is narrowly drafted,” Schneider said. “The oil that we’re talking about does not produce a high and it has helped many epileptics reduce the number of seizures that they have.”
Other senators like Republican Rick Bertrand of Sioux City talked about wrestling with the decision.
“I sincerely am standing here (and) do not know how I’m going to go on this,” Bertrand said.
The bill now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.