Pubdate: Sat, 20 Feb 2016
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2016 The Des Moines Register
Author: Jeff Shipley
Note: JEFF SHIPLEY, of Fairfield, is a former Chairman of the 
Republican Party of Jefferson County, former member of Republican 
Party of Iowa's State Central Committee and previous Republican 
statehouse candidate.


The Iowa Legislature finally took action on medical cannabis this 
week, an issue which has had mothers literally crying down at the 
Capitol for years. But instead of granting relief to desperate 
patients of chronic illnesses, our leaders are demonstrating once 
again they're quite capable of ignoring the pain and suffering of the 
citizens they are elected to serve.

Patient after patient testified before a House panel this week, 
choking out emotional pleas for relief as tears streamed down their 
faces. Many more crowded into the packed chambers, anxiously waiting 
for politicians to act. The heart-churning stories of pain and 
suffering could have lasted all afternoon, but the politicians 
budgeted less than an hour.

Cancer patients, parents of epileptic children, women with multiple 
sclerosis, a young woman with Crohn's disease, people battling 
cancer, the Army vet with PTSD - the patients were diverse, but their 
stories were strikingly similar: Medical cannabis helps me, other 
medicines have not.

The House Commerce committee passed a bill out of committee by a vote 
of 17-6, but before they did, the legislation was gutted to exclude 
relief for many of the patients described above.

Oxycontin, morphine, hydrocodone - a man in pain threw his legal 
medications on the table and described how each were undesirable. In 
contrast to these highly addictive legal painkillers, he would be a 
criminal if he chose the medicine that would actually help him.

I don't know the political calculations behind all this, but I do 
know that the suffering and pain in that room was real.

Why are politicians preventing access to medicine? How does a 
bureaucrat know more than a patient or doctor? How can a politician 
measure suffering and say this pain qualifies and this doesn't? After 
hearing patient after patient it became abundantly clear: If there 
was any decency whatsoever in the statehouse, if the legislature had 
a shred of compassion, they would have passed a medical cannabis bill 
years ago.

Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer has been deaf to the cries of 
these suffering patients. If Upmeyer chose, she could end the 
suffering today. It should have been done yesterday. Upmeyer chooses 
to prolong the suffering. I challenge her to look these patients 
straight in the eye, and tell them point-blank that she knows what 
medicine is best for them.

She won't. Instead, she'll hide behind political procedure, and use 
every excuse or deception she can to keep this bill off the House 
floor. Or, as we've seen, water legislation down until it's 
absolutely meaningless.

Upmeyer isn't just prolonging the suffering of patients, her 
cold-heartedness is putting the entire Republican caucus at risk. 
Iowans aren't naive, they no longer believe the tired old propaganda 
from 20 years ago. Voters will reject any political leader that turns 
a blind eye to needless suffering. And deservedly so.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom