DES MOINES | Maria La France left the Iowa Capitol very early Thursday morning feeling a mixture of exhaustion, happiness and relief.
She watched as the Iowa Legislature passed a narrowly defined bill permitting Iowans to access a form of cannabis oil to treat those suffering from severe epilepsy. The bill passed during a marathon session that lasted through the night and into Thursday morning.
Concerned mothers, like La France, whose children deal with severe epilepsy, lobbied lawmakers to support the bill that was once deemed dead on arrival earlier in the session.
“Other people are surprised but I’m not," said La France of the bill’s legislative approval. “I would have been very surprised and upset if this bill did not pass. It’s important, it’s happening across the country and this is about compassion for our sick Iowans.”
The bill limits how much cannabidiol a patient or caregiver can possess and they must obtain a state-issued card to have immunity from prosecution if found with the drug.
Quincy Grittmann woke up Thursday morning with a flood of Facebook messages, texts and phone calls from friends and family. For Grittmann, who moved to Colorado April 1 from Tama, the news is bittersweet.
“It’s really amazing but I guess I wish we didn’t have to move all the way out here for a month and then find out the news,” the 29-year-old mother said.
Grittmann moved her family to Colorado so her son, Braedy, could receive cannabis oil to help treat his frequent seizures. If the bill is enacted into law, she said she would move back to Iowa.
“If we hadn’t signed a six-month lease already for an apartment, we’d definitely be on our way home already,” Grittmann said. “That’s where we want to be.”
Grittmann said her 3-year-old son is on day 10 of using the cannabis oil and he’s only had two seizures. She said normally Braedy would see 10 to 20 seizures in a 10-day period.
La France said it was a wonderful feeling after the bill passed when several lawmakers came out of the chamber and gave her a hug. She credits the success to the strong communication between advocates and legislators.
“The fact it passed means we have some great people up there (at the Capitol),” LaFrance said.
Although the bill has to cross the governor’s desk to be enacted into law, La France said she’s not concerned.
“The governor isn’t dumb,” La France said. “He will sign it.”