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Medical Marijuana: Iowa Public Hearings Get Underway

Medical marijuana advocates were out in force Wednesday in Des Moines as the Iowa Pharmacy Board held the first in a series of public hearings on whether the state should reschedule marijuana from Schedule I (no medical use, high abuse potential) to Schedule II (medical use, high abuse potential). The board will make recommendations to the state legislature later this year.
Carl Olsen
The hearings are part of the board's review of the scientific evidence around the medicinal use of marijuana, a review that will also examine state and federal laws. The review comes after the board last month again rejected a petition from Carl Olsen of Iowans for Medical Marijuana to remove marijuana from Schedule I. The board had earlier rejected a similar petition, but a Polk County (Des Moines) judge in April ordered the board to reconsider.

Olsen argued that because medical marijuana is legal in 14 states it no longer meets the definition of a Schedule I drug. The board disagreed, saying that marijuana would have to be legal in all 50 states and under federal law for it to be rescheduled. But it did agree to review the evidence. The public hearings are part of that process.

Wednesday's hearing in Des Moines featured poignant testimony from patients as they pleaded with the board to stop treating them like criminals for using marijuana to treat pain and other conditions. "People are suffering who need not suffer. People are rotting in jail who should not be there," said Kevin Feeley of Ames in remarks reported by the Des Moines Register. Feeley said he used marijuana to ease his suffering from spinal cancer.

Feeley joined other speakers in telling the board that marijuana is safer and less addictive than many prescription medications. They urged the board to help Iowa join the ranks of states where patients are allowed to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Robert Manke of Des Moines said he used marijuana for pain relief from injuries caused by traffic accidents and to reduce nausea from prescription medications. "I know what it's like to crawl around on the bathroom floor like an animal in the morning, vomiting with my head in the stool," he said. "I need your help. I'm not here because I want to get high. I'm here because I want to stop being sick. And I want to stop being persecuted."

It wasn't just patients. Several doctors testified in support of medical marijuana Wednesday, including Dr. Edward Hertko, a retired physician, who echoed that marijuana is less dangerous and addictive than many common prescription drugs. It wasn't about getting high, he said. "The people who want recreational marijuana already know how to get it," Hertko noted.

Not everyone was on board. Representing the Iowa Elks Association, Gary Young warned that allowing for medical marijuana could make it easier for people, including young people, to get ahold of it. He also challenged the plant's medical efficacy and argued that prescription drugs are more pure and easier to control than smoked marijuana. "I urge the board to make its decision on scientific evidence and not on anecdotal evidence," he said.

The Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy did not testify at the hearing, but offered a written statement in opposition. The office position is that the science so far does not support using marijuana as a medicine. As its web site notes: "Unless, or until, the consensus of medical evidence changes, ODCP opposes any proposal to legalize marijuana smoking for medical purposes."

The three remaining public hearings are September 2 in Mason City, October 7 in Iowa City, and November 4 in Council Bluffs.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Whew! A whole lot of corrections here.

1. I did not ask for Schedule II. I asked them to remove it from Schedule I. High potential for abuse? Are you kidding? Why would I ask for that?

2. I argued marijuana is legal in 13 states. Where did 14 come from?

3. The Board did not argue that marijuana would have to be accepted federally. They said it would have to be accepted in 50 states. They didn't say anything about the federal government.

No wonder this is so difficult. You can't get anyone to accurately report the facts.

Carl Olsen

Hey Carl, what about Big 2Wackgo?

Not to demean the testimony so far, which however RWTSH's like Medved refer to as "Victocrat".

But it's time to go on the offensive, and start suggesting that tobacco is World #1 High Abuse Potential Drutg, and that legislators should consider the chance that legalizing riefer will drastically reduce the 5.4 million/year death toll.

Medical marijuana option/Iowa gay marriage acceptance.

I am speaking for my 88 year old father who had a really bad bout of spine cancer this spring. A small man to start with lost 19 lbs. due to treatment which left him with nausea, pain and worse.

This is so unfair and closed minded.

With Iowa's liberal marriage law, please folks, lets take it to another level to give folks with great pain, no appetite, withering away, another option to combat their ailment?

Legal Rx is oft made from plants. No?

Did I mention he is a World War II survivor? Please afford my dad this as an option for comfort.

Many Thanks and God Bless,

Vicki Hackney Enright

When did we stop being the

When did we stop being the United States. What is good for 13 states isn't good enough for the rest? All this boils down to, is that there is an older crowd, doing what ever it takes to "win" this drug war. They don't care about the facts, they just want to see it illegal.
A poll just came out that 51% of people believe that alcohol is more lethal than marijuana. Yet it is the same old folks that can't stand Marijuana, but have no problem with booze.
What a backwards system.
As long as our government can profit off of alcohol and ciggerettes, they don't care what it does to its people.
Sorry to rant, but this frustrates me to the highest level.

Our government is backwards

Our government is backwards booze kills millions and thats okay, but pot is illegal! Why does the government smarten up and relize they can make money on pot , just as they do with everything else, but with out it killing millions. Why let poeple be in pain if we can make life easier on poeple that just want to not be in pain, without out taking a hand full of precription pills that cause more side effect, just to treat one problem. This frustrates me too I have to deal with pain all the time, and I don't take my meds. because for every pill I take there are many side effects that are just not worth taking. They are thinking that kids will have an easier time getting there hands on pot if were legal, but as a parent I would much rather have my kid smoking pot then drinking any day. I had my kid brother go to the hospital to have his stomach pumped from drinking to much, he could of died. I know that wouldn't have happened if he would of been smoking,instead of drinking. Keep fighting for our rights!

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