DES MOINES, IA — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law Friday a bill to allow cannabidiol oil (CBD oil), a non-psychoactive concentrate derived from marijuana, for patients suffering from severe epileptic seizures.
The bill, Senate File 2360, was passed in early May by the state legislature. Under the proposal, patients would need a recommendation from a neurologist and a registration card from Iowa’s Department of Public Health to be authorized to possess and use up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.
At first, the Republican governor opposed the proposal, claiming he was worried about the potential for “unintended consequences” such as drug abuse, but signed the bill after being contacted by parents who believe that CBD can help limit their chidrens’ seizures.
“This bill received tremendous support and truly shows the power of people talking to their legislators and to their governor about important issues to them, to their families and to their children,” he said shortly before signing the bill at a ceremony in the Statehouse Rotunda.
But don’t look to see Iowa expanding the medical marijuana program to include other ailments, or allow other parts of the cannabis plant to be utilized, any time soon.
“I think it would be a mistake to look at now expanding [medical marijuana] to a whole bunch of other things,” the Governor said earlier, when he announced his intentions to sign the bill.
Under the new law, which takes effect on July 1, those who receive a recommendation from a neurologist and subsequently receive a registration card from Iowa’s Department of Public Health will be authorized to possess and use up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.
But marijuana reform advocates remain skeptical that any patients will see access to cannabidiol under the new law, who call the bill “largely symbolic” because it provides no legal, in-state source for Iowa residents to obtain cannabidiol, says NORML deputy director Paul Armentano.
“The law unfortunately will fail to provide either adequate access or adequate relief to the very patient population it is intended to serve,” Armentano said.
Armentano added that residents of Iowa would have to obtain the oil from a state where marijuana is legal, and break federal law to carry it across state lines.
Iowa joins Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin as the eighth state to enact CBD-only medical marijuana bills this year. The Missouri legislature has also passed a similar bill, and is awaiting action by Governor Jay Nixon, who is expected to sign the bill sometime this month.
Two other states, Georgia and Florida, are also close to allowing cannabidiol based medical marijuana.
Both chambers of the Florida legislature have passed similar CBD bills, but the two chambers still need to agree on the final wording in compromise committee, as each chamber passed a differently worded version, with the Senate’s bill being more restrictive.
In Georgia, the Senate failed to take action on a bill passed in the lower chamber to allow cannabidiol, but the Governor has issued an executive order allowing British-based GW Pharmaceuticals and Geogia Regents to collaborate on a research study.
In addition, 22 states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive medical marijuana laws, and New York is two votes away in the Senate from becoming the 23rd state to do so.