The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that legalizes the use of a form of marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy, joining a host of other states and nations that continue to slowly make progress toward legalization and decriminalization. The measure passed the Senate 36 to 12, and was then sent forward to the House. Many mothers of children with epilepsy are credited for helping the bill succeed, after they passionately lobbied various lawmakers in an attempt to sway them toward favoring the passage of the bill.
The bill allows for the medical use of oil that is derived from the cannabis plant, to be used as a last-resort treatment for seizures that are caused by a chronic form of epilepsy. A written recommendation from a neurologist is also to be required before individuals are able to acquire the substance for their personal use legally. Patients and caregivers must also obtain a registration card through Iowa’s Department of Public Health.
The Republican-led committee in the Iowa House overwhelmingly approved the bill, which allows patients with “intractable” epilepsy to go out-of-state and come back with 32 ounces of cannabis oil as a treatment for their condition. The bill was successful in passing the House Public Safety Committee on a 13-5 vote, it is now headed to the House floor. House members added three amendments in committee, one requires that the University of Iowa School of Medicine conduct a clinical study on the effectiveness on the hemp oil. However, no funds were mentioned or appropriated thus far toward the study.
Another stipulation aims to limit the amount of cannabis oil that a person can possess to 32 ounces, which is about 902 grams. This can be expected to last a patient at least 6 months. The last amendment calls for the creation of rules that would allow out-of-state caregivers to obtain temporary cards to go about transferring and possessing the oil.
“My hope and my prayer is that this ‘hemp oil’ — I refuse to call it marijuana oil or medical marijuana, it’s hemp oil — I hope it works. I really do. I pray that it works. What keeps me up at night is the fact that next year or the year after, everybody will say, ‘Me, too,’ but they’ve been saying that for years and I’ve been catching all the spears.” stated Republican Representative Clel Baudler of Greenfield, who has been a long-time opponent of legalizing marijuana for general medical purposes.”
Representative Jarad Klein congratulated the move, stating that it was an opportunity to get the government uninvolved, then parents and the neurologists will be able to come to a decision about what is best for the children. This legislation is beneficial in that it protects from criminalization; you won’t end up locked in jail, left with a fine, or have your life temporarily ruined for simply using and ingesting a natural substance. By using this oil, patients will be able to reduce the amount of prescription drugs that they are taking up to between 50 and 75 percent, offering them an improved quality of life.