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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | FEBRUARY 08, 2011 7:10 AM

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Committee unqualified to assess medical marijuana

In 2008, Iowans for Medical Marijuana filed a petition with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to begin the process of rescheduling marijuana as a medicine in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Public Health has now filed Senate Study Bill 1016, which would implement that change, with the support of the Iowa Medical Society. The House Committee on Public Safety has filed a bill opposing SSB 1016, House File 183, which is currently pending before that committee.

These are the facts:

• Moving marijuana to Schedule II will not make it legal for anyone to use marijuana. We have two plants in Schedule II now, coca and opium poppy. These plants are not available by prescription; they are simply source material for FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs.

• Moving marijuana to Schedule II will not change the criminal penalties. The criminal penalties for marijuana are in Iowa Code 124.401 and do not mention any specific schedule. The rescheduling of marijuana will not affect the penalties in any way.

• Moving marijuana to Schedule II will have no fiscal effect on the state budget.

• It would require federal approval to make it legal for anyone to use marijuana for any reason (even for research).

A resolution adopted by the American Medical Association in November 2009 points out that moving marijuana out of Schedule I will promote research. Even opponents of medical marijuana claim to support more research. The research could easily go either way on marijuana’s medical utility. Some of us think the results would be positive, some think the results would be negative. The AMA says it’s time to find out.

Opposing the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, the American Medical Association, and the Iowa Medical Society is not good public policy — unless the House Committee on Public Safety bears an antipathy to research. The Iowa Department of Public Health should make the decision.

Carl Olsen
Iowans for Medical Marijuana
Des Moines


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