Iowa among states with highly restrictive medical marijuana laws

Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian

Twenty-three states have medical marijuana programs and another 11, including Iowa, allow people with certain illnesses to use marijuana products high in cannabidiol, or CBD.

Medical marijuana users say CBD products, such as oils, have therapeutic value and lack the high that comes with THC.

An Iowa law passed this year allows neurologists to recommend CBD products to certify that patients with intractable epilepsy may consume the drug. The product must have less than 3 percent THC.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, the country’s largest medical marijuana patient advocacy group, said new CBD-only legislation like Iowa’s was driven largely by parents of children with seizure disorders and other difficult-to-treat conditions.

“It’s a misguided assumption that all they have to do is strip out THC and they will have a medicine for children without any euphoric effects,” said Hermes, whose organization recently gave Iowa an F for its medical marijuana access. “There are parents who are finding out even in medical marijuana states that CBD only strains don’t always work effectively.”

Laws like Iowa’s “do nothing to help patients be able to obtain it,” said Hermes.

“They have no regulatory scheme for growing it, manufacturing the oil or distributing it to patients through a storefront facility, “ he said. “These laws are typically non-functional.”

The Iowa law wasn’t designed to protect someone like Benton Mackenzie, who has a form of cancer that affects blood vessels. Mackenzie, 48, was convicted this month of marijuana-related crimes stemming from his pot-growing operation.

Mackenzie, who faces sentencing next month in Iowa state court, traveled to Oregon this week to obtain medical marijuana. He is an Oregon medical marijuana patient.