I would like to commend Gov. Kim Reynolds for taking the advice of her Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board and vetoing HF732. It is clear that Reynolds had science and research at the forefront of her decision to veto this bill, and that’s what public policy should be based on – science and research – not popularity or what the public wants. Medical marijuana is one of those issues where the lines often become blurred by emotions and stories. But when you look at other public health and safety issues, research and science play the largest role in guiding and crafting policies that protect all Iowans. Why should medical marijuana policy be any different?
Take, for example, seatbelts. If 1,600 Iowans brought a petition to the governor to ask her to get rid of the seatbelt law because those 1,600 people don’t like seatbelts and don’t want to wear one when they drive, should we get rid of the seatbelt law because it’s not popular and it’s not what people want? Of course not. Research and science show that seatbelts save lives. Seatbelt laws are an example of policy that’s based on science and research, not public perception or popularity. Medical marijuana policy should be the same. Marijuana cannot be medicine just because we want it to be so. We need science and research to help discern this.
We know that there are Iowans out there who have very real and debilitating health conditions. We also have a rigorous, scientific process in our country for determining what is medicine and what is not. Public policy should not be based on our desire to help Iowans with these health conditions – it should be based on science and research, taking into account the public safety of all Iowans.
The marijuana industry and its followers are abusing the privilege of empathy and the plight of innocent Iowans with very real, medically recognized problems to further the agenda of de facto marijuana legalization. They're doing this by blurring the difference between cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from marijuana under strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, and the potentially dangerous THC. They are pushing claims of largely anecdotal reports of miraculous curative powers to force THC into our legislated CBD program.
The Medical CBD Board in Iowa is the group of medical professionals that has been put in place to oversee the medical CBD program in the state. The board is tasked with governing our program and advising the Legislature on potential statutory changes to the definition of medical CBD, including the THC limit. They are experts in their fields of medicine and, as such, their recommendations should be highly regarded when making any changes to the program, including any potential expansion of the program. The governor was right not to sign this legislation that contained provisions that the CBD board did not approve and does not recommend. We must keep Iowa's medical CBD program within safe limits, and unfortunately the provisions in this bill would not have done that.
The most notable change that this bill would have made was to remove the three percent limit on THC in the medical CBD products sold in Iowa and replaced it with a limit of 25 grams of THC per 90-day period. This change was not recommended by the board, nor should it have been. This dose would allow a person to consume more than 277 mg of THC every day for 90 days – an amount higher than many recreational users will consume in a day or over the course of 90 days. This is reckless and would have many unintended consequences to Iowans, especially our young people. At past meetings of the Medical CBD Board they have suggested using research to guide any changes to the current law. The board is right and our legislators should follow the board’s lead.
It’s always concerning to me when policy decisions are being made based on emotions and empathy, instead of policy decisions based on expert opinion, science and research. As citizens we must demand policies that protect all Iowans from unintended consequences. That doesn’t mean we don’t have compassion or care for Iowans who are suffering. It means that we want the very best care for them, as well as the rest of Iowa’s residents. Our public health policies should be based on science and research, not emotions and anecdotal stories.
Lorelle Mueting is prevention program director for Heartland Family Service in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
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