By Anthony Martinelli

In a last-minute deal Iowa lawmakers gave approval today to legislation to expand the state’s limited medical cannabis oil law that passed in 2014.

House File 524 was approved by the House today at 3am (83 to 11), and was passed by the Senate exactly four hours later (33 to 7), sending it to Governor Terry Branstad for final consideration. The proposal would legalize the production and distribution of cannabis oil for those with a qualifying condition who receive a recommendation from a physician. Licensed dispensaries would be established to safely distribute the medicine to patients.

“There are many, many citizens, literally thousands of citizens, that could benefit from the use of this medication,” says Representative John Forbes, a Democratic pharmacist who voted in favor of the measure. “They’ll have access now to a treatment for debilitating diseases that are not very well treated sometimes with conventional medicine.”

“There are sick Iowans out there that need relief, bottom line,” said the bill’s floor manager, Representative Jarad Klein, R-Keota.

If approved into law, House File 524 would allow the Department of Public Health to approve up to two manufacturers and up to five distributors if cannabis oil. The cannabis oil will be limited to containing no more than 3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The bill also would expands the list of qualifying conditions to use cannabis oil to include cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and others. A medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board would be established within the Department of Public Health to recommend adding or removing qualifying conditions.

A separate, more liberal proposal to legalize medical cannabis recently passed the Iowa Senate.

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