Influential Iowa business leaders are urging state legislators to pass a bill that would expand the state’s medical marijuana laws.
The Des Moines Register reports that more than 90 business leaders sent lawmakers a letter, asking them to debate and pass comprehensive medical cannabis legislation.
“Now is the time to help suffering Iowans and their families get legal access to this medicine, and we hereby call on Iowa lawmakers to debate and pass Comprehensive Medical Cannabis legislation this session,” the letter reads.
The signers span several industries, including banking, insurance, publishing and real estate.
It’s been legal for Iowa residents with epilepsy to use cannabis oil since 2014, but proponents argue that the change was useless in practice because of a separate state law that makes it illegal to manufacture or distribute it.
The proposed legislation would grant the state authority to establish two growing facilities and distribute medical cannabis oil to people who suffer from cancer, intractable epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
State Rep. Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines, who introduced the measure, said he brought the issue forward after hearing stories like those from West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer and his wife, Sally, who have a daughter with epilepsy. The Gaers have obtained cannabis oil for their daughter and say it’s made a dramatic improvement.
“For me personally, I’ll be very disappointed for this legislative session if we don’t get this bill passed into law,” Cownie said. “From people coming up to me on the street with how supportive they are, around town, around my district, I think Iowans are ready for the change.”
The bill has cleared the House Commerce Committee and is headed to the Ways and Means Committee.