- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A legislative committee narrowly recommended allowing medical marijuana to be grown and sold in Iowa to help people with epilepsy.

The 10-member committee was formed to look at problems with a new law that was supposed to allow some epilepsy patients to get marijuana extract. On Thursday, the committee also backed changing state law to reclassify marijuana so it would be easier to get as medication, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/ZjntjI ).

In May, lawmakers vote to allow people to possess marijuana extract, an oil that doesn’t contain the chemical that makes people high, to treat seizures if it’s prescribed by an Iowa neurologist. But the law didn’t provide any way for people to make or distribute the extract in Iowa.

Parents who pushed for the bill have said in the months since that it’s basically unworkable. Most states where medical marijuana is legal don’t allow people from other states to buy it. And people from Iowa would have to break the law to bring it back home.

State Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said he saw the original law as a giant step for families, but now it’s clear that it needs to be fixed.

He and five other lawmakers voted to recommend the closely regulated production and distribution of medical marijuana for approved patients. It did not say what type of marijuana but did say it should not be taxed.

Four of five Republicans on the committee voted against the motion. The tie-breaking vote came from state Rep. Clel Baudler, a Greenfield Republican and retired state trooper who said the state needs to find a way to help people with severe epilepsy. He said he opposes expanding the law to let people possess marijuana for other conditions such as cancer or Crohn’s disease. The committee voted against recommending such an expansion.

The committee voted 9-1 on a measure to recommend reclassifying marijuana in a way that would be a step toward making it legal for medical purposes.

Parents said Thursday that they’re frustrated with how long it is taking to register people for the new program. Administrators said identification cards won’t be available until at least Jan. 30.

“These families are going through living hell,” Dotzler told an official from the Iowa Department of Public Health, saying state workers should be able to move more quickly. The official said administrators are moving as fast as they can under the law.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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