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Mary Jo Wilhelm

Wilhelm

Iowans living with debilitating conditions are now halfway to having access to new medical options.

In 2014, the Iowa Legislature overwhelmingly approved a limited law making it legal to possess medical cannabis oil. However, no Iowan was helped by that law because there is no legal way to obtain the oil in Iowa.

This year, Iowans began a push to join the 23 other states that already have regulated, responsible systems to provide citizens with access to medical cannabis. There are four steps to making access a reality here in Iowa:

1. Create comprehensive, workable, responsible legislation that takes advantage of the experiences of other states.

2. Pass that legislation through one chamber of the Iowa Legislature.

3. Pass that legislation through the other legislative chamber.

4. See that legislation signed into law by Gov. Branstad.

So far, we've accomplished two of the four steps required to bring some relief to Iowans suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS/HIV, Crohn's Disease, ALS, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic conditions specified in the legislation.

During the 2015 session, we achieved steps one and two by creating and approving SF 484 in the Iowa Senate. The bill is now ready to be taken up by the Iowa House and sent to Governor Branstad for his signature next session.

We can follow the example of Minnesota, which has two manufacturers of cannabis oil, will set up eight dispensaries and will regulate providers who prescribe the oil to patients with certain severe medical conditions, including cancer and epilepsy.

Between now and January, urge legislators to support legal, regulated access to medicines made from cannabis. If they aren't available here, some Iowans may opt to move away from Iowa and make their home in nearby states where access is now legal.

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