DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican lawmakers passed changes to the state’s medical marijuana program Tuesday even that has Gov. Kim Reynolds backing.
In the last legislative session, the Republican governor vetoed a bill passed by both chambers that would have set limits on the dosage of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana that gets users high. The 2020 bill scales back the amount of THC medical cannabis users can purchase in a time period of 90 days. In 2019, the legislature proposed a cap on 25 grams of THC for 90 days, the new measure has a cap of 4.5 grams per 90 days with a few exceptions.
Democratic lawmakers said that amount is not nearly enough, although Republicans said they chose the number due to a recommendation by the state’s Medical Cannabidiol Board.
“We have people in the program – about 2,000 people – that are maintained on a dose higher than that,” Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, said.
Forbes, a pharmacist, said the 4.5 gram limit per 90 days is equivalent to about 50 milligrams a day. He calls this legislation “a step backwards” for the state’s medical marijuana program.
“In some cases I think we’ll see patients dropping out of the program because they now have to get lower doses,” he said. “Which means they may have go back on their other medication prior to going on the program which is opioid meds in full.”
Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, said he understands concern about patients going back to opiods, but said there is an alternate solution to that in the legislation.
“That’s why we have the waiver in there. The people that are most likely on high levels of opioids are those suffering chronic pain,” Keota said. “So if the doctor doesn’t want them going back on opioids, we’ll get you that waiver to get that correct amount of THC for your condition.”
Forbes said the waiver process for physicians might be a deterrent since it requires additional paperwork.
Current law does not have any limits on the amount of cannabis products you can buy in a certain time frame. Last year, Governor Reynolds surprised lawmakers by vetoing an expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, but she’s has said she’ll sign this one. The bill will now have to pass in the Senate before it heads to Reynolds’ desk.