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Legislature, governor ponder expanding Iowa’s medical marijuana law

It’s unclear how the latest debate about expanding the state’s medical marijuana law may be resolved, but bills on the subject have survived this week’s deadline for committee action in the legislature. Representative Jarad Klein of Keota and other Republicans on the House Public Safety Committee have voted to allow a small increase in the potency of cannabis products that are licensed for sale in Iowa.

“We’ll see how negotiations and developments happen between the governor, the Senate and the House,” Klein says. Republican Senator Brad Zaun (ZAHN) of Urbandale, meanwhile, is among those pressing forward with a different bill in the Senate. It would allow medical cannabis products with far higher levels of T-H-C. That’s the chemical that causes the high and is also used to combat nausea, seizures and other medical conditions.

“It’s going for the gusto. I mean I’m asking for everything because I know that we’re going to negotiate,” Zaun said, “and I like to negotiate from a high position.” Zaun’s bill would allow patients who qualify for the state program to buy up to 25 grams of T-H-C in cannabis products over a 90-day period. The HOUSE bill mirrors the recommendations of the state board that oversees the medical cannabis program. Governor Kim Reynolds says the board has the medical expertise to guide policy decisions, but the governor is hinting she might go farther than the 90-day, four-and-a-half gram T-H-C limit the board has recommended.

“We’re going to continue to work on the language and see what that looks like,” so those conversations are still taking place, so I’m not going to draw a line in the sand right now while we’re continue to work with the House and the Senate to come to some resolution.” Representative Klein says the matter will not come up for a vote in the full House until it’s clear what the governor will approve.

“What I’ve requested is a public statement of actual position rather than signals and not being 100% clear with us,” Klein says. “…That’s part of the reason we didn’t get a bill done last year was we didn’t know her position. There wasn’t clarity. We worked with the best intentions, thought we had a good piece of legislation, she disagreed, but we didn’t know that until the veto.” Governor Reynolds says she expects some sort of resolution will be hammered out before lawmakers adjourn the 2020 legislative session.

“Now, is everybody going to be happy with it? Probably not, but it’s like everything else, if it’s progress I think we should take a look at that, consider that as somewhat of a win and then continue to look at it down the road,” Reynolds says. “But we have a process in place. We have a board in place. We asked them to weigh in. They’ve done that and now the legislature and my office — I — will take a look at that and make a recommendation going forward.”

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