Cannabis Concerns: What Medical Marijuana's Future Holds In Iowa And What Lawmakers Can Learn From C

The cannabis conversation is sparking debate over legalization all over the country. Both this session and last, Iowa lawmakers have explored different options targeting marijuana. For now in Iowa, state laws allow for a very limited rule for medical cannabis oil.

As Iowa lawmakers continue the cannabis conversation, Colorado experts say access to marijuana of different kinds has made a huge impact on the state. They say recreational, medical or even just cannabis oil could make a big difference for Iowans.

While lawmakers consider expanding the current cannabis laws here, states like Colorado are flourishing from the marijuana movement.

"It's a social economic revolution unlike any we've seen in the past 100 years," said KC Stark, CEO of the Marijuana Business Academy, Studio A64 and Go Green Cross.

Along with running Go Green Cross, which connects patients and doctors to find medical cannabis treatments, Stark also runs the Marijuana Business Academy, which teaches the in's and out's of the new state laws and how to deal with some big challenges.

"We do not have access to banking, we do not have access to lending, we do not have access to credit card processing, we do not have access to many things. And yet, we have created thousands of jobs despite all those challenges," Stark said.

The cannabis industry is thriving. Medical and recreational marijuana sales hit $700-million last year alone. And experts are predicting that number to continue to rise.

"It saves lives, I've seen it. It creates jobs, we help people do that every day. And look at our economy, we're doing better with cannabis," Stark said.

The medical side of marijuana has been legal there since 2000. And over the 15 years, Stark says the number of cannabis critics have gone down. Iowa says they're seeing something similar.

"Iowans are becoming more educated, you're seeing the poll numbers go up. They're starting to understand there's a difference between medical cannabis and recreational medical marijuana," said Sen. Rick Bertrand.

Lawmakers here are only looking at the medical side. This session alone, they considered expanding the current law, including a fix for a loophole that currently prevents Iowans from accessing the cannabis oil lawmakers legalized last year.

"I think that it was a step forward for the state, but we also found there are a number of different pieces of the bill that in practice aren't functioning the way they need to, to actually allow these families to have, possess and administer the drug to their children," said Rep. Chris Hall, (D) District .

The bill is expected to fail this session and while lawmaker say the medical cannabis conversation will come up in future sessions, passing any changes won't be easy.

"We might see something similar, but I think the bill on its own has very slim odds, it's going to be an uphill battle," Hall said.

And despite the challenges facing the future of cannabis, lawmakers say they expect it to have a definite presence in Iowa.

"So yes, I do think we're going to see some form of cannabis oil being produced either at the University level or the private, but probably some time within the next five years," Bertrand said.

There are still plenty of people opposed to implementing any changes to Iowa's cannabis policy. Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Kraig Paulsen insisted that although he is sympathetic to suffering Iowans, he says he won't be taking up the Senate's expanded cannabis bill on the House Floor this year. The spring session officially ends May 1.

Other lawmakers say they plan on learning from other state's cannabis examples, like Colorado, in the meantime.

Not including cannabis oil policies, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. And with growing numbers of support for marijuana legalization around the country, its safe to say, the cannabis debate will continue in the national spotlight for years to come.


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