Iowa advocates of medical marijuana say state is slow to follow law allowing use of drug's oil

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DAVENPORT, Iowa — Iowa officials have been moving slowly to implement a law allowing for an extract of marijuana to be used for medical treatment, and advocates say they'll keep pressing for more access to the drug.

The state Department of Public Health has yet to issue a single marijuana registration card that's required under the law that passed last year, the Quad-City Times reported (http://bit.ly/1KcbPu0 ). Iowa residents need cards to legally possess marijuana extract purchased in other states.

Maria La France, a mother in Des Moines, said she remains too nervous about being arrested to regularly obtain marijuana oil for her son's intractable epilepsy, the only condition recognized under the law for marijuana treatment.

"It's too scary to break the law, too difficult to lose sleep at night. I frankly spend enough time worrying if my child is going to live another week," La France said.

Steve and Sally Gaer plan to continue lobbying lawmakers for more access to marijuana. Their 24-year-old daughter has seizures more than once a week despite being on four medications.

"What this Iowa bill says is 'this is medicine,' which is huge," Sally Gaer said. "It doesn't help us get it right now, but we made a huge step in educating lawmakers and citizens that there are options out there."

The Iowa Legislature may provide an opportunity. Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City said he wants to introduce legislation to allow more conditions to be treated with marijuana and allow the drug to be grown in Iowa.

"The medicine has to be produced within the state," Bolkcom said. "That's a major omission from our law."

Gov. Terry Branstad believes the current law needs time to be evaluated before any expansion, but the governor will carefully review anything the legislature passes, his spokesman Jimmy Centers said.


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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