ST. PAUL, Minn.- Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt (Crown-R) and Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (Clear Lake- R) are engaging in policy talks which would allow Iowans to purchase medicinal marijuana products from Minnesota dispensaries.
For awhile, Minnesota possessed far more liberal laws when it came to medical marijuana than did Iowa, allowing for the production and distribution of certain medical marijuana products. However, legislation to set up a medicinal marijuana program similar to that of Minnesota’s has been passed by both the Iowa House and Senate, and was recently signed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. While this move by Branstad has gone a long way in changing the legal relationship between Minnesota and Iowa in terms of marijuana, there are still many lingering questions.
For instance, some believe that it the legislation was too limited.
“This is going to take a couple years to put in place and by the time that happens, people will sign up for the program and then realize that because we’re not allowing for the whole plant to be available, that eight of nine conditions in the bill will not have a therapeutic medicine to alleviate the pain that people suffer from,” Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom said after the legislation passed.
While the legislation in Iowa has made the purchase of medical marijuana from permitted dispensaries immediately legal, no such dispensaries will exist in Iowa until at least 2018. For those needing medical relief as soon as possible, Minnesota’s dispensaries may present the necessary short-term solution. Indeed, the wording in Iowa’s legislation would allow them to start registering within the Minnesota program immediately.
On the federal level many questions remain. Most importantly perhaps is the fact that the U.S. government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug, meaning that it can’t be moved across state borders. This could present a serious problem for the potential relationship between Iowa and Minnesota residents. In addition, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated repeatedly that he opposes the use of marijuana, even for medical purposes.
For Minnesota’s budding marijuana industry, this legislation and access to Iowan clients could be a much needed boon.
“One of the problems that we have had [in Minnesota] is that the manufacturers … have a limited number of customers, and it may become difficult to sustain their business,” Daudt told the Associated Press.
Both medical marijuana manufacturers, Minnesota Medical Solutions and Leafline Labs, have not been profitable. The medical marijuana program within Minnesota has shown low registration numbers in part due to the restrictions on what products patients are able to use.
Both Minnesota and Iowa medical marijuana legislation bans the use of marijuana in plant form and limits allowed marijuana products; oils and pills, to a limited number of patients. Furthermore, legislation in Iowa limits the potency (THC levels) of such marijuana based oils. These restrictions have meant that many are unwilling to sign-up for state run medical marijuana programs and instead will use the drug illicitly.