It’s time to help fight epilepsy

You can possess cannabis oil in Iowa.

Known medically as cannabidiol, it is recommended by many medical specialists for its ability to ease the effects of epilepsy.

It became legal to possess in Iowa last spring when the Iowa Legislature adopted a law to that effect, and Gov. Branstad signed it.

But cannabidiol is illegal to manufacture or sell in Iowa.

States where it is legal — Colorado and Oregon — can’t sell it in bulk to out-of-staters.

And if an Iowan should somehow acquire it in one of those states, it’s illegal under federal law to transport it across state lines.

Parents whose children suffer under epilepsy lobbied effectively for cannabidiol in last year’s legislative session, achieving what they thought was success when the law was passed and signed.

That turned out to be false.

A relevant question is how many lawmakers thought they had solved the problem, and how many knew how empty the law actually was when they voted for it. You might ask yours.

So this year, some legislators are trying to remedy the situation. They propose to allow the manufacture and sale of cannabidiol in the state.

But some, including a number who voted for last year’s bill, and Gov. Branstad as well, are reluctant to take the steps necessary to make cannabidiol actually available to Iowa epilepsy victims.

In the governor’s defense, he said recently he would consider working with Illinois to permit transportation of the product from that state into Iowa. Illinois is currently working on a pilot project for the manufacture and sale of cannabidiol there.

But making Illinois cannabidiol available to Iowans would require a change in Illinois law. And then there’s the matter of the federal ban on interstate transportation.

Some legislators are reluctant to do what would need to be done in Iowa because they see the effort as a backdoor attempt to legalize marijuana here. And some are milking Iowans’ ignorance about the differences between marijuana and cannabidiol for political purposes.

Cannabis oil contains very little THC, the chemical that produces the marijuana “high.” It’s not habit-forming.

A bipartisan Iowa legislative committee which studied the situation has recommended 9 to 1 to reclassify it as a Schedule II substance, which would define it as having medicinal value.

The law adopted in Iowa last year states that the substance can be obtained only upon a prescription by a neurologist who finds that the patient would benefit from its use.

Given all the facts, it is puzzling why the state wouldn’t proceed with legalizing cannabidiol’s manufacture and sale here, under the required conditions.

The legislative history surrounding the issue is an example of why more and more people are becoming frustrated and disgusted with politics and government.

Cannabidiol is not as dangerous as fireworks.

It deserves a chance, as do the children whom it could help.

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Jefferson, IA 50129

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