Gov. Branstad expected to sign Iowa’s first medical cannabis bill this Friday

Terry Branstad -- photo by Jim Greenhill
Gov. Terry Branstad (right) says he plans to sign the cannabidiol oil bill this week. — photo by Jim Greenhill

Iowa will join the majority of states in allowing some form of medical cannabis this week. Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign Iowa’s very narrow marijuana bill into law on Friday.

The bill will allow Iowans with chronic epilepsy and a neurologist’s recommendation to register to possess cannabidiol oil, or CBD, a cannabis extract that is taken orally. It will still be illegal to produce or sell the stuff, so families will have to obtain the oil elsewhere.

CBD is marijuana the same way olive oil is an olive — it’s not. It doesn’t make you high the same way tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, does and it has many documented medical uses. In fact, when taken along with THC — like when smoking plant marijuana — CBD may even mitigate the intoxication and drowsiness caused by THC.

So it’s probably still a stretch to call Iowa a medical marijuana state. But the very limited CBD bill appears to be a step in that direction. Proponents likely will continue to sponsor broader medical marijuana legislation and even Branstad, a medical marijuana opponent who is up for re-election this fall, says the limited CBD bill is a “careful experiment.”

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