Pubdate: Wed, 08 Dec 2010
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Iowan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The Iowa Legislature may consider the marijuana legislation in January

A new Hawkeye Poll shows the majority of Iowans are in favor of 
medical marijuana, and proposed legislation could make that a possibility.

The poll -- administered by UI professors and students -- found 62 
percent of Iowans are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, which 
is in line with the results from other states.

This finding comes on the heels of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy's 
unanimous decision to draw up legislation for the Iowa Legislature to 
consider when it reconvenes in Januar that would change the 
designation of marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug.

Schedule 1 drugs, such as LSD, are deemed as having no medical 
purposes, but changing the classification to Schedule 2 -- the 
classification of many narcotics and amphetamines -- recognizes the 
drug has some medical qualities.

The board spent more than two years gathering information from 
patients and doctors regarding the drug, and it decided marijuana 
fits better in Schedule 2, said Lloyd Jessen, the board's executive director.

The approach differs from 14 states that have legalized marijuana for 
medical purposes without changing its classification, said Carl 
Olsen, an activist for medical marijuana.

But reclassifying the substance paves the way for a stronger eventual 
legalization bill, he said.

Olsen said the board should have proposed reclassifying the drug at a 
lower schedule because he said the members deemed marijuana as less 
likely to be abused than others in Schedule 2.

Olsen also cited THC, the key mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, 
is slated as a Schedule 3.

"Everything else in there is just vegetable material," Olsen said. 
"If you are going to go out in your garden and smoke a broccoli 
plant, you are probably going to get the same lung damage from 
smoking marijuana."

While Olsen said he was pleased legislation has been introduced, he 
is worried lawmakers who are wary of medical marijuana will vote 
against the bill to change the designation, even though designating 
pot as a Schedule 2 drug does not provide patients access to the drug.

But some legislators are not convinced the two issues are separate.

"It is pretty clear that if the state is going to pursue a policy to 
allow people who suffer chronic pain access to medicinal cannabis, we 
are going to have to reschedule marijuana as has been proposed," said 
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City.

And Jacoby told the Daily Iowan Editorial Board earlier this month 
that "the bill has no chance this year," even saying he doesn't 
expect it to get out of subcommittee.

The piece of legislation doesn't directly address legalizing 
marijuana, but Kevin Leicht, a University of Iowa sociology professor 
who helped administer the recent poll, said participants views of 
legalization could influence lawmakers.

"I think the Iowa report is a bit more surprising and brings more 
attention to the Legislature because Iowans are viewed as very 
traditional people," Leicht said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom