Harking back to the good old days, when a neighbor could simply walk over and borrow milk or sugar from a kindly friend next door, lawmakers in Iowa and Minnesota met this week to further explore a program that would allow Iowans to buy medical marijuana from their neighbor up north.
This potential “friendship” with Minnesota surfaces as an attempt to circumnavigate Iowa’s extremely limited medical cannabis law. Iowa House Rep. Zach Nunn told the Gazette that Iowa could also possibly partner with other states that possess more expansive medical cannabis programs, including Illinois. That said, Nunn added that the most substantive discussions have been with Minnesota. “We’re thinking what Iowans could potentially do to acquire it immediately, to acquire it affordably and to allow them access to it in a way that there’s some quality control.”
A partnership with Minnesota could also be mutually beneficial, said Nunn, given that the state’s medical marijuana program has been underused. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the state has a healthy sum of cannabis oils and extracts but a relatively small number of active and enrolled patients. “There’s a scale of economy issue here that’s very valid,” Nunn said.
Advocates for an expanded medical cannabis program in Iowa have openly expressed that the proposed partnership with Minnesota falls short of their expectations. In a recent statement, Steve Gaer, co-founder of Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis, complained that even if the partnership between the states were to go through, Iowans would still have to travel huge distances to obtain the much-needed cannabidiol (CBD) to treat epilepsy patients.
“We’re pleased that [the Iowa House] is interested in helping Iowans who greatly need medical cannabis. However, suggesting we look to another state to solve Iowa’s problem is counter-productive at this stage in the session,” Gaer said. “We need the comprehensive solution that [Iowa reps] and a large bipartisan group of legislators have been advocating for since the beginning of this session to become law.”
At the moment, Iowa’s marijuana program permits Iowans to possess CBD to treat patients with epileptic seizures but — frustratingly for any family dealing with epilepsy — the law does not provide access to CBD in the state. Multiple efforts from desperate Iowans have failed to gain sufficient support from state lawmakers to make the oil readily available in their own state.
“We continue to advocate for our daughter and other disabled Iowans to have the ability to access medical cannabis treatment in Iowa. Produced, tested and dispensed in Iowa by Iowans for Iowans,” stated Gaer.
Gaer’s 27-year-old daughter suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic epileptic dysfunction of the brain.
Speaking with Cannabis Now Gaer’s wife, Sally Gaer, expressed that she’s “utterly offended” by the recent discussions between Iowa and Minnesota lawmakers, and the misleading hope that all the recent political activity has promulgated.
“I really think it was simply just a feel-good measure in the Iowa House so that they can boast that they’re allowing suffering Iowans to possess medical marijuana oil,” she said.
Indeed, Sally Gaer may be right in her thinking, because, quite shockingly, even if the potential partnership between the states goes through, Minnesota’s law would require a change, reports the Gazette, as the state currently does not allow Iowans to legally purchase medical marijuana in its dispensaries.
“To steal a quote from The Iowan Magazine,” Sally quips, “I’m nice, but don’t push me.”