On Thursday, January 31, 2013, Stephanie Fawkes-Lee of Fawkes-Lee & Ryan presented the following testimony before the Iowa House of Representatives Public Safety Committee subcommittee on House Study Bill 52, an act “relating to the controlled substance of marijuana, providing a penalty, and including an effective date provision.
“Fawkes-Lee & Ryan is an issue-based lobbying company. We lobby eight issues. Two of our issues are being addressed with the introduction of this legislation; medical cannabis (also known as marijuana) and ending the War on Drugs. It is our belief that the scheduling and determination of the medical benefits of marijuana should take place within the medical community.
“When members of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy were asked to determine if marijuana was a Schedule I or a Schedule II drug, they took this proposal seriously. Iowa citizens from across the state were given the opportunity to give testimony to the board on the medical benefits of marijuana. It soon became very clear that marijuana does have medical benefits and the board voted and introduced legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I. This legislation should have been taken up in the Human Resources committees in both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. Unfortunately for Iowans, it was turned into a law enforcement bill instead of a medical bill. Fawkes-Lee and Ryan strongly believes that law enforcement has a clear financial conflict of interest with any discussion on whether or not marijuana should be rescheduled and therefore should be removed from this discussion.
“It is important to note that marijuana is not physically addictive. It is a natural pain reliever and a viable choice for medical patients, especially those that have reactions to synthetic, prescription drugs. Unless it is laced with another substance, there is no threat of overdosing on marijuana versus the current practice of using dangerous narcotics for pain relief. Although alcohol and other narcotic drugs can lead to aggressive or violent behavior, marijuana has a calming, euphoric response. There are reasons why patients may prefer not to use marijuana, but this is a discussion that should take place within the medical community.
“But this discussion is premature until the federal government changes its stance on marijuana. Iowa could and should be in on both the discussion and solution to the issue of medical marijuana. Fawkes-Lee and Ryan believes that marijuana should be produced, regulated and distributed by either a public university, such as Iowa State or the University of Iowa or a private enterprise specializing in plant genetics and seed production. Iowa’s central location and agricultural expertise makes it an ideal solution for the federal government in its current struggle with state versus federal law regarding medical marijuana.
“Marijuana is presently listed in Iowa as both a Schedule I and a Schedule II drug. The main difference between these two is that a Schedule I drug is defined as having no medical benefit. Marijuana does have medical benefits and therefore should be removed from Schedule I. The rescheduling does not mean that marijuana would become legal or that doctors will be able to prescribe it to patients. Iowa has and should respect federal law. The rescheduling would simply put Iowa in a position of offering a solution, instead of being part of the problem.
“In closing, recently a legislator brought up the increase of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicides amongst veterans. It is extremely frustrating as a former sufferer of this disorder to watch the political posturing surrounding marijuana when I know that the medical benefits from marijuana could save these veterans lives. We should not force veterans into an illegal activity in order to address their health needs. Please put the rhetoric aside and take a positive step forward by voting against making marijuana a Schedule I drug.”