Editorial: The fight for legalizing medical cannabis in Iowa is your fight, too


(Photo: Flickr)

by Aimee Loats, Special to The Simpsonian

This election season has sparked a lot of controversy, one that revolved around electing either our first woman president or a real estate tycoon and reality TV star.

Electing our next president is one of the most important duties we as citizens have on our shoulders.

Although this didn’t affect Iowa citizens, there were four states voting on the legalization of medical cannabis and five states voting on recreational use of marijuana. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota gave their residents the ability to vote yes or no to legalizing medical cannabis, while Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are voting for recreational use.

As a member and advocate for Americans for Safe Access, I am ecstatic to see these states giving their residents the ability to voice their opinions about this controversial issue. aimee-loats

Allowing medical cannabis for individuals in these states would be a huge step forward for those who have no other options to turn to. There are many residents of all states that are already finding relief from medical cannabis to help with chronic ailments like cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and many more, but my question is “Why not Iowa?”

A comprehensive medical cannabis law was proposed to the Iowa House in 2014, but never passed any subcommittees. This year, our bill made it a little further but was shot down on the House floor.

Iowa law has an extremely tight grip on what and how much medical cannabis one can possess. Most Iowans, 78 percent in fact, are in support of medical cannabis, so why aren’t our House Representatives representing us?

I know of families who have become medical refugees and have gone to Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona and many others among the 25 states that have it legalized. How can our state stay so stagnant and refuse to help our sick and suffering Iowans?

I know we are gaining headway on this issue, but I want more Iowans and representatives to understand how this works. The bill this past year asked for cannabidiol (CBD) oil to be legal to dispense and possess. CBD oil gives patients the anti-inflammatory properties without the psychoactive effect associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products.

We also need to realize that progressive research cannot be done until we remove medical cannabis and marijuana from a Schedule I category. This has thrown caregivers, mothers, fathers and self-advocating patients in jail simply for trying to relieve their debilitating symptoms. I do not see how this is progressive or helpful in any way, shape or form to our state.

One in 3 people has a chronic illness. One in 5 people has an autoimmune disease. These are people that you know and love. These are people that would benefit from medical cannabis. These are people that are sick and need help now.

I encourage you to get educated on this topic and speak up for what you believe in because we have no time to defy this law.