RECOMMENDING CANNABIS IN IOWA

Under SF 2360, only neurologists may recommend CBD oil, and they may only recommend it to patients they are treating for intractable epilepsy. Prior to writing a recommendation for CBD oil, the patient must be receiving care from their neurologist for at least six months; however, the neurologist does not have to be licensed in Iowa, so long as they have a medical license in good standing (for example, an Iowa patient living near the border of Iowa and Illinois could be in the care of a neurologist licensed and practicing in Illinois). The neurologist must attempt to treat the patient first with alternative treatment options that have not alleviated the patient's symptoms prior to recommending CBD oil. Additionally, the neurologist must determine the risks of recommending the medical use of cannabidiol are reasonable in light of the potential benefit for the patient.

To recommend CBD oil as a physician, you must be a board-certified neurologist in good standing. You can only recommend CBD oil to patients who are treating intractable epilepsy. You must have been treating that patient for at least six months, however, you do not have to be a doctor licensed or practicing in Iowa. You must attempt to treat the patient first with alternative treatment options that have not alleviated the patient's symptoms prior to recommending CBD oil. Additionally, you must determine the risks of recommending the medical use of cannabidiol to your patient.

There is no specific certification required for healthcare practitioners such as, MD, DO, PA, ARNP, and DPM’s, to certify a patient for the use of Medical Cannabidiol. Before a patient submits an application for a medical cannabidiol registration card, a healthcare practitioner must do all of the following:

  • Determine to the best of your medical judgment if the patient being treated suffers from a debilitating medical condition that qualifies for the use of medical cannabidiol. If so, you must provide the patient with a written certification of said diagnosis by completing the healthcare practitioner section of the application form.
  • Must provide explanatory information to the patient about the therapeutic use of medical cannabidiol, the possible risks, benefits, and side effects.
  • Determine, on an annual basis, if the patient continues to suffer from a debilitating medical condition. If so, issue the patient a new certification of said diagnosis.
  • Comply with all requirements and requests from the department. A healthcare practitioner may provide, but has no duty to provide, a written certification pursuant to this rule.

The Healthcare Practitioner Certification Form is required to be included alongside all patient/caregiver applications.

Under Iowa Code chapter 124E.12 (1), a healthcare practitioner shall not be subject to prosecution for the unlawful certification, possession, or administration of marijuana under the laws of Iowa for activities directly related to the certification or use of medical cannabidiol in the treatment of a patient diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition. Under Iowa Code chapter 124E.12 (6), any healthcare practitioner is not subject to any civil or disciplinary penalties by the board of medicine or any business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for activities related to a patient’s possession or use of medical cannabidiol.

Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions include:

  • Cancer, if the underlying condition or treatment produces one or more of the following
    • Severe or chronic pain
    • Nausea or severe vomiting
    • Cachexia (Severe Wasting)
  • Multiple Sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • AIDS or HIV as defined in section 141A.1.
  • Crohn’s disease
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • any terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year, if the illness of its treatment produces one or more of the following:
    • severe or chronic pain
    • nausea or severe vomiting
    • cachexia or severe wasting
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Untreatable pain

Medical professionals have a legal right to recommend cannabis as a treatment in any state, as protected by the First Amendment. Established by a 2004 United States Supreme Court decision to uphold earlier federal court rulings that found doctors and their patients have a fundamental Constitutional right to freely discuss treatment options.

More resources for medical professionals can be found here.