Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen (IA)
Copyright: 2009 Iowa City Press-Citizen
Author: Brian Morelli,  Iowa City Press-Citizen
Cited: Iowa Board of Pharmacy Medical Marijuana Hearings
Referenced: Senate File 293


Residents Will Get Chance to Weigh in During Hearings

A lawsuit, a piece of legislation and a series of hearings in front 
of Iowa's drug board have heated up the debate about the possibility 
of Iowa becoming the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana.

One of the top proponents is Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City.

Sitting in an eatery Tuesday in downtown Iowa City, Bolkcom flipped 
though a stack of e-mails. One was from a 58-year-old man with 
multiple sclerosis who is wheelchair bound; another was a 29-year-old 
receiving dialysis for kidney failure who experiences steady pain and 
no appetite. Another was from a 42-year-old woman with four kids who 
was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has been legally disabled for two 
and a half years.

"I have tried over 36 drugs in the last four years to find something 
that would help me function. ... Marijuana is my only hope for good 
days," wrote a woman who signed the letter Lisa.

"It's just on and on," Bolkcom said. "I was taken aback by the 
chronic pain people are dealing with, and they have taken every 
narcotic man has made with no relief and major side effects. But 
everyone is in fear of the law."

Bolkcom has received more than 80 e-mail testimonials since he 
introduced medical marijuana legislation -- Senate File 293 -- in March.

Bolkcom has introduced similar legislation over the years. He knows 
it's a longshot to pass the bill in the upcoming legislative session, 
but the issue is getting more attention this year than in the past.

The public discussion is important for educating the public and 
elected officials, he said, and it is a good opportunity for average 
citizens to speak up.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is holding a series of public hearings, 
beginning Wednesday in Des Moines, to receive evidence and testimony 
regarding the pros and cons of medical marijuana from a scientific, 
medical and legal perspective.

The board will be in Iowa City on Oct. 7 at the Bowen Science 
Building on the University of Iowa campus. The public is invited to 
attend these meetings.

"At the end of this, the board will be taking a look at all of the 
information that has been provided and what substances should be 
classified as controlled substances in each of the classes. Then the 
board will make recommendations to Legislature," said Terry 
Witkowski, Executive Officer of the pharmacy board.

Rep. Jeff Kauffman, R-Wilton, said he has not made up his mind on the issue. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake