Many agree that medical marijuana laws in the state of Iowa are hazy pieces of legislation that still needs some work.
Just last week we introduced you to the McDermott’s. They have an 8-year-old son, Ryan McDermott, suffering from a severe form of intractable epilepsy.
Ryan has to take five different kinds of medication, twice per day. But there’s one medicine his family said he’s missing that would eliminate the need for all of those pills, medical marijuana oil.
Despite legislation that passed last May allowing families in Iowa to posess the oil there’s no clear, legal way to obtain it.
“Even though they have that legal access, the means of getting it is a little more difficult than anticipated,” said director of services for the Epilepsy Foundation Monta Ponsetto.
She said for families dealing with intractable epilepsy, time is precious.
“Waiting six months maybe before the dispenseries are open in Illinois or having to go to Colorado still to obtain the cannabidiol is a long time,” she said. “That may mean dozens or hundreds of seizures between now and that time.”
Although possessing medical marijuana oil has been legalized in Iowa for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy, the McDermott family questions the law’s usefulness.
“It gives me access to have it in my possession, but I can’t buy it here so therefore unless I go somewhere and bring it back illegally that’s the only way of doing it right now,” said Tina McDermott.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said they’re in the process of completing the application needed to approve patients to get a medical marijuana registration card. The department hopes the first cards will be issued in mid-February.
But Tina said the law needs to be expanded so the oil can be legally sold and produced in state.
“So really no, the card doesn’t really do me any good,” she said.
State Representative Cindy Winckler said she’s unsure if there will be additional legislation, but says there’s interest amongst lawmakers.
“I do think they are absolutely right and the fact that it unworkable and I hope that we can do something that is meaningful for them,” said Rep. Winckler.
The Iowa Pharmacy Board is also recommending to give the oil a medical classification and change it to a Schedule II drug. However, they said it’s unlikely pharmacies will be able to have the drug unless federal law changes.
Rep. Winckler said there needs to be expansion on the legislation they passed last year. She said producing the oil in Iowa would be best because transporting the oil across state lines is currently illegal.
The McDermott family also said they’re excited to be apart of a medical marijuana clinical trial that begins in the spring in Iowa City.