Chronic Illness Patients Struggle to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Even though certain forms medical cannabis are now legal in Iowa, some people with approved conditions are struggling with the medical cannabidiol card application process.

Meggie Young suffers from several chronic conditions including multiple sclerosis, which is one of the nine conditions that is approved to receive a medical marijuana card or license.

The first step in the process of being able to purchase it is to get a doctor to sign off on it.

“Almost exclusively they all said no. Since it’s not federally legal, they don’t want to risk their license,” Young said.

After 14 months, one of her physicians signed off and she applied for a medical cannabidiol card through the Iowa Department of Public Health and once she was approved that meant she had to go to the drivers license office to officially receive it.

“Right now, at this moment, I’m in a lot pain and struggling with fatigue and just driving. So even if I had someone take me, I’d have to sit there for who knows how long,” Young said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said several patients have raised their concerns about the last step and difficulty of going to the DMV, but there’s not much they can do.

“We don’t have the ability, as a department, to waive that requirement for patients. So that’s really something our legislature would need to tackle,” Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said.

The road blocks don’t stop there.

If young eventually gets her cannabidiol card and starts using the product, her doctor said she only has six months to choose between cannabidiol and pain medications.

“When you look at the fact that a prescription costs three dollars and the medical cannabis products cost around 75 to 100 dollars each per month. That’s going to be a huge challenge,” Young said.

Even with challenges she said going through the process is worth it.

“The only way to make a law work for you is for it to evolve. And the only way it evolves is if people take advantage of the law and use it the right way and push for expansion,” Young said.

For more information on approved conditions and the application process go to the Iowa Department of Public Health website.


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