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A Des Moines-based pediatric nurse practitioner will speak on the potential pitfalls of marijuana legalization Monday at a town hall meeting in Osage.

Concerned primarily with the lack of medical research on usage, Jennifer Sleiter will speak on questions she said still need to be answered if the state would potentially consider any expanded form of marijuana legalization.

The Mitchell County Substance Abuse Coalition will hold the event at 7 p.m. in the Osage High School gym.

The school is located at 820 Sawyer Drive in Osage.

State legislation passed last year made it legal to possess an oil form of medical marijuana called cannabidiol, or CBD, but not access it, which some parents have said is a barrier to using it as a treatment.

But not enough is yet known about its medical effects, Sleiter said.

"In our opinion, we feel that if we are going to treat (cannabis oil) as a medication that it should go through the same standard as any other medication," she said.

"If it was my child, I get it, I would want to do whatever I could for my child," she said. "And possibly, people aren’t thinking of the long-term effects that could come from this."

The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate passed a bill in April to set up a program similar to Minnesota's, which began July 1, but it was not brought up in the state's Republican-controlled House.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen called the Iowa proposal "virtually a recreational use bill." House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer said she believes the state should not approve the medical cannabis oil before the federal government. And Republican Gov. Terry Branstad said he is concerned about potential unintended consequences of an expanded program.

Twenty-three states, including Illinois and Minnesota, along with Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana and set various restrictions on state residency requirements and which medical conditions qualify for each program.

In June, an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated medical marijuana had not been proven to work for many illnesses that state laws have approved it for, but that more research was needed.

The strongest evidence was for chronic pain and for muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis, according to the review, which evaluated 79 studies involving more than 6,000 patients. Evidence was weak for many other conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders and Tourette’s syndrome.

The Osage meeting is free and open to the public.

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