Gov. Reynolds vetoes bill that would have expanded medical marijuana program

Local News

DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds has vetoed a bill that would have expanded regulations on Iowa’s medical marijuana program.

Reynolds released a statement regarding her veto of House File 732. 

She said, in part, that “I support our program and efforts to strengthen and improve the program, so that it continues to be a safe, rational, and compassionate medical CBD program. Unlike some states, Iowa’s medical CBD program is not a medical marijuana program. To this end, current Iowa law limits the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”)—the psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant—in medical CBD products to three percent. But recognizing the limited experience with medical CBD and potential questions surrounding the three percent limit, the Legislature had the foresight to establish a Medical Cannabidiol Board, primarily made up of medical experts…” said Reynolds. “Most of the changes included in House File 732 were the result of the Legislature and the Medical Cannabidiol Board coming together to reach agreement on appropriate and positive improvements to our medical CBD program.  I fully support these changes. But unfortunately, the bill would also remove the three percent limit on THC in medical CBD products and replace it with a limit of 25 grams of THC per 90-day period. This change was not recommended by the Board. And if approved, it would drastically expand Iowa’s medical CBD program far beyond its original scope of CBD-based treatments and could open the door to significant unintended consequences to the health and safety of Iowans.”

Reynolds said that she agrees there should be some change to the three percent THC limit, but she has “been unable to discern any evidence-based justification for the specific 25-gram limit proposed in this bill. And after its review of the available evidence, the Board recommended a limit of only 4.5 grams per 90-day period.”

Some Republican senators voiced their disappointment in the governor’s decision. 

“House File 732 contained many provisions to improve our medical cannabidiol program and I am disappointed these did not become law.  I am fully committed to working with Speaker Upmeyer and Governor Reynolds to find a common ground solution to expand and improve Iowans access to medical cannabidiol,” said Sen. Majority Leader Jack Whitver. 

Senator Brad Zaun said, “I am extremely disappointed with the governor’s veto of the Medical Cannabidiol Act.  However, after conversations with Governor Reynolds, I am committed to work with her and the House on medical cannabidiol legislation early in the 2020 Session. This will be a top priority in January 2020.”

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh said, “I support Governor Reynolds’s veto of House File 732. The medical cannabidiol board was concerned about the amount of THC patients would have been allowed to access if this bill was signed. The Department will continue to look to the Governor, the legislature, and the expertise of the Iowa medical cannabidiol board to provide guidance for ongoing operation of the program.”

Reynolds concluded her statement by saying that, “Ultimately, I believe Iowa must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion of our medical CBD program is thoughtful and deliberate—particularly because Iowa’s program is in its infancy and the body of research that analyzes the efficacy of medical CBD is limited. So I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Medical Cannabidiol Board to find an evidence-based THC limit that we can work to enact along with the rest of the provisions in House File 732 that I support. The health and safety of Iowans is too important for us not to get this right.”

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