Iowans thought their medical prayers had been answered in 2014, when the state passed a medical marijuana bill – but three years on, patients are still not getting the products they are legally entitled to. The sub-standard program has even led some lawmakers in Iowa’s House of Representatives to call for a partnership with Minnesota, with the neighboring state having a superior medical cannabis system.
The idea being touted by Minnesota lawmakers would permit Iowans to buy CBD oils from dispensaries in Minnesota. In Iowa, it’s illegal to produce and sell CBD oil and concentrate products, despite the state legalizing possession. This contradictory set-up has left patients with epileptic seizure and other treatment-resistant conditions with no legal way of getting CBD medication in-state – although many patients and families have used workarounds.
A Minnesota-Iowa agreement would be beneficial for both sides. It’s high time that Iowa residents got access to their medicine, and with Minnesota’s medical marijuana industry flagging, it would deliver a much-needed boost. In its first year, only 1,000 or so enrolled into Minnesota’s medical marijuana program, and just three of the eight legal dispensaries in the state open for business, without new clientele, it’s unsustainable.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but Minnesota appears to like the idea and is in the process of finding out how such a set up could work with the current legal framework in the state. If there are no conflictions, then it may happen soon. Marijuana remains federally prohibited and therefore any agreement made between Minnesota and Iowa – in particular the former – would have to completely comply with state law, otherwise the federal government and the DEA could get involved.
The issues with a Minnesota-Iowa CBD agreement
Cannabis’ federal status as a Schedule I drug – deemed to have no medical uses and grouped in with the likes of LSD and heroin – is unhelpful. Federal law means that transporting medical marijuana between states is illegal and dispensaries have had to be very careful with this as states legalize the herb.
Both states would have to make law changes that are mutually agreed, and a system would be required to protect patients who transport CBD products over state lines.
Logistically, patients would still have a hard time getting hold of medical marijuana even with this agreement. Since just three dispensaries are still operating and the closest to Des Moines is a three-hour drive away, acquiring CBD medicine would take more than a quick trip for Iowan patients. This agreement sounds good on paper, but in practice, patients would still not be able to access CBD oil as easily as they should be.
There is an unopened dispensary less than an hour north of the Iowa border, but there’s no idea whether it will ever open, as Minnesota can only make a case for its viability with patients from its own state. However, if the two states came to a working agreement, not capitalizing on this dispensary would be counter-productive.
However, many marijuana supporters in Iowa are actually against the proposition. Their goal is for the Hawkeye state to sort out its own legislation issues, rather than have a fix involving Minnesota. Indeed, the two-state solution would reduce the immediate need for Iowa to change their medical marijuana laws.
Advocates also argue that by allowing Minnesota to cater for the CBD demand, Iowan tax dollars are going out of state for no good reason. If lawmakers changed the production and distribution laws, patients would have better access to CBD and Iowa state government would raise more tax revenue – a win-win.
At the moment, it seems that the legislation is complex and the final decision on whether to go ahead with the plan could take months or over a year. From solving federal government issues to satisfying cannabis advocates in Iowa, it will be a tough job to please everybody. In the long-term, it would be better for Iowans to have a well-working medical cannabis program, but in the short-term, being able to purchase CBD oil is of the highest importance.
Do you live in Iowa or Minnesota? What do you think about the proposed agreement and current legislation? Send us your thoughts in the comments.