Some Republicans announce support for medical marijuana bill

Published 02/09 2016 05:25PM

Updated 02/09 2016 05:25PM

Copyright 2016, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

(AP) Some Republican House lawmakers announced their support Tuesday for new legislation that would create a system for manufacturing, distributing and possessing some forms of medical marijuana in Iowa, though it’s unclear what type of backing the bill will get from party leaders.

The bill would expand the state’s 2014 law on medical marijuana, which allows some epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil but doesn’t include an in-state manufacturing system for the oil. The new legislation would include more products and patients, though it would prohibit smoking the drug.

Rep. Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines and chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said the state has “a law that some feel, myself included, is not doing what it was intended. So this is that bill to fix that.”

Cownie spoke during a news conference at the Capitol that included presentations from advocates of medical marijuana. He was surrounded by a handful of House Republicans, including Rep. Jake Highfill from Johnston, Rep. Bob Kressig from Cedar Falls, and Rep. Zach Nunn from Altoona.

The bill would create a system for manufacturing medical marijuana in the form of liquids and pills. It also would expand the list of medical conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana, including cancer and multiple sclerosis.

“I am overjoyed today with the support of new faces and legislators as well as strong new data that shows Iowans overwhelmingly support a comprehensive medical cannabis program in Iowa in 2016,” said Sally Gaer with advocacy group Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis.

Senate lawmakers introduced legislation last session that aimed to create a similar system. It passed in the full Senate but failed to come up for a vote in the House.

The sponsoring and backing of the medical marijuana bill by a House Republican gives it some new momentum, but House leaders have yet to comment on it, and Cownie was vague when asked about that support.

“People have predispositions to this issue,” he said. “I just hope everyone can keep an open mind.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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