By Anthony Martinelli

A bill to legalize medical marijuana has been passed by Iowa’s Senate.

Senate File 506 was passed Monday with a 45 to 5 vote, sending it to the House of Representatives for consideration. The proposal would drastically expand a state law that allows the medical use of cannabis oil to allow for the possession, use and licensed distribution of cannabis and cannabis products for those with a recommendation from a physician.

“I think this is the right thing to do,” says Senator. Matt McCoy (D), who noted that many supporters of the measure have died waiting for it to be passed into law. Senate File 506 is referred to as The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act. The bipartisan measure was supported by 25 Republicans (4 opposed), 19 Democrats (one opposed) and the only independent.

“Let’s do the right thing for the people out there who are suffering,” said Senator Brad Zaun (R). The proposed law allows up to 12 licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to begin operating by July, 2018. Those interested in running a business would need to pay a non-refundable $15,000 fee.

Conditions covered under Senate File 506 includes HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, ALS, Tourette’s syndrome, cancer and others. An advisory board made up of nine health care professions and three patients would be given the authority to consider adding new medical conditions.

“I think this bill strikes the right balance,” says Senator Charles Schneider (R). “It’s not a perfect bill, but I think it’s a good start.”

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