Pubdate: Thu, 12 May 2016
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2016 The Des Moines Register
Author: Barbara Rodriguez, Associated Press


A legal challenge aimed at reclassifying marijuana in Iowa was shot 
down Wednesday by the state's appeals court, though the issue will be 
taken up again in a separate case that also seeks new guidance on the 
drug's use under state law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals said the Iowa Board of Pharmacy had proper 
authority to deny Carl Olsen's request in 2013 to reclassify 
marijuana as a controlled substance that has medical use.

The decision comes after the Iowa Legislature failed to pass 
legislation this session that would update the state's 2014 law on 
medical marijuana, which allows possession of cannabis oil. The court 
case is considered separate, though the legality of the drug under 
its current classification is tied to the debate over its 
accessibility to medical patients in Iowa.

Messages left for the board were not immediately returned Wednesday.

"The board should have the same interest that I do to get this solved 
and get this out of their hair so they don't have to keep dealing 
with it," said Olsen, a self-described activist for marijuana use. 
"I'm not going to let them off the hook."

The board makes recommendations to the Legislature on revisions to 
the classification of controlled substances, but it's up to lawmakers 
to enact policy. The appeals court determined Wednesday that the 
board was not required to make yearly recommendations.

The seven-member board recommended in 2010 that the Legislature 
remove marijuana from a classification known as Schedule I. The 
General Assembly took no action on the 2010 recommendation, and it 
has failed to pass related legislation in later sessions.

Olsen, 64, said the issue must be revisited more frequently amid 
changing perceptions around the country on marijuana, particularly 
its use by medical patients. Federal law still classifies marijuana 
as a Schedule I drug, though Olsen said it's critical to make 
movements on the state level before tackling federal policy.

Olsen said that the appeals ruling adds legal clarification to the 
issue and that he doesn't plan to appeal. He will focus instead on a 
separate legal challenge he filed against the pharmacy board that 
seeks to address more recent board activity relating to the 
classification issue. That case is pending in district court.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom