Des Moines, Iowa — After warning his fellow Senators that approving a cannabis oil bill sends the wrong signals, Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan ended up voting for the bill anyway this past week.
On a 36 to 12 vote, the Iowa Senate passed the legislation that would allow Iowans to act on a doctor’s recommendation and go out of state to get “non-intoxicating cannabis oil” for the treatment of “intractable epilepsy.” Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says it’s a “very narrowly focused” bill.
(as said) “The legislation before us is a product of our best bipartisan work, responding to the pleas of our constituents who have petitioned their government to help them end the suffering and negative quality of life most of us just simply cannot imagine,” Bolkcom said.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, choked up as he talked about the parents who have children that suffer from severe epilepsy who’ve repeatedly visited the statehouse to tell their stories to legislators.
(as said) “We have an opportunity to do something here today that’s pretty special and I want to thank the mothers for coming before us and having the courage to stand up when people were saying: ‘No,'” Dotzler said.
Senator Johnson warned of the bill’s negative consequences.
(as said) “We don’t control the public perception out there,” Johnson said. “We are sending a signal, whether we like it or not, that marijuana is o.k.”
Johnson wound up voting in favor of the bill. Johnson represents Lyon and Osceola Counties in our area as well as Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto Counties.
Senator Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines who voted for the bill, says he’s not in favor of “opening the door” to recreational marijuana either.
(as said) “This bill, however, is narrowly drafted,” Schneider says. “The oil that we’re talking about does not produce a high and it has helped many epileptics reduce the number of seizures that they have.”
Other senators like Republican Rick Bertrand of Sioux City talked about wrestling with the decision.
(as said) “I sincerely am standing here (and) do not know how I’m going to go on this,” Bertrand said.
The bill now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.