In 2017, Iowa legalized the sale of medical CBD in dispensaries statewide. This move represented an expansion of the state’s earlier CBD policies via 2014’s Medical Cannabidiol Act, a law that had placed significant restrictions on patients’ ability to actually obtain CBD.
Read on to learn about the current Iowa medical cannabis qualifying conditions — and about some of the complications that still exist, even for qualified patients.
Iowa’s Buildup to CBD Legalization
Believe it or not, Iowa had actually dabbled in medical cannabis legalization as early as 1979, when state law made allowances for a “therapeutic research center.” Unfortunately, a full-fledged cannabis research program never actually came to fruition and the list of Iowa medical cannabis qualifying conditions was extremely short.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Iowa made further strides in medical cannabis treatment. Thanks to the work of local activists, the state Senate approved a bill that legalized the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) for patients who suffer from “intractable epilepsy” as diagnosed by a neurologist.
This measure (signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad in May 2014) only approved the possession of CBD in oil-based preparations. It also set a cap on the amount of THC allowed in such preparations. Perhaps most confoundingly, this law did not allow for the manufacture of medical-grade CBD oil within state limits, requiring patients in need of the substance to break federal law by transporting it across state lines.
2017’s expansion of the law addressed some of these shortcomings by allowing for the production of medical CBD oil at two new facilities in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids; distribution of the oil was also authorized at five new dispensaries, located in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, and Windsor Heights. Finally, this 2017 expansion extended the list of Iowa’s medical cannabis qualifying conditions.
Current Iowa Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions
As of May 2017, Iowa residents may qualify for the state’s medical cannabidiol program if they have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions: seizures (no longer restricted to cases of “intractable epilepsy”); Crohn’s disease; multiple sclerosis; HIV or AIDS; Parkinson’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”); cancer that is characterized by severe pain, digestive conditions, or severe appetite loss; chronic pain that is unresponsive to other treatments; and finally, terminal illness that presents a life expectancy of less than one year.
This new list of Iowa medical cannabis qualifying conditions brings the Hawkeye State further into the fold of states with inclusive, patient-friendly medical cannabis programs. It also takes Iowa off the roster of states — a lineup that now only includes eight states, mostly concentrated in the south and midwest — that restrict medical cannabis access to residents with intractable epilepsy.
Some Possible Roadblocks to Effective Treatment
Even for those who hold medical CBD cards in Iowa, though, some challenges remain.
For one, the 3% cap on the THC composition of Iowa’s medical CBD oil may actually be doing patients a disservice. While limited amounts of THC may prevent consumers from experiencing any psychoactive effects — an understandable necessity for underaged patients — isolating CBD to the exclusion of any other cannabinoids may lessen the effectiveness of the medicine. The so-called entourage effect posits that cannabis is at its most integral and most powerful in flower form, with the full “entourage” of each strain’s terpenes and cannabinoids working in concert to provide maximum health benefits.
Additionally, local news outlets have surfaced some stories of card-carrying CBD patients who face discrimination in various contexts. Such cases, which include medical professionals refusing to administer CBD oil to students and nursing home residents, are largely due to the continuing conflict between federal prohibitions on cannabis and state-by-state legalization.
If you’re new to Iowa’s medical CBD program, we recommend familiarizing yourself with what to expect when ingesting CBD oil. Or simply visit one of Have a Heart’s Iowa dispensaries for assistance. Stop by our Council Bluffs medical cannabis dispensary or visit or Davenport medical cannabis dispensary for high-quality CBD products such as capsules and tinctures.