Government Proves Nuns Wrong

As a young student in Catholic grade school, I was taught that only God could be in two places at the same time.  I had doubts at the time because I could swear my mother’s ears were in several places simultaneously.  Superman could get from one place to another in a matter of seconds, but it wasn’t the same as being here and there all at once.

The government can be in two places at the same time, but that’s a collective government.  The Internet has allowed many of us to be in one place while “virtually” being in another place at the same time.  So, I’ve established that it’s physically impossible to be in two places at the same time.

Well, the government proved me and those nuns wrong.  If you look in the Iowa Code, you will find marijuana in two places at the same time.  I’m not referring to just the word; the manner in which it is described defies all logic.  Marijuana is a Schedule I substance.  To be included in Schedule I a substance is considered to have a “high potential for abuse; and it has “no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States”.  Now, keeping that in mind, you will find that marijuana is also located in Schedule II substances.  A substance listed in Schedule II is one that “has high potential for abuse” and “has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions”.

There are some caveats, you know, like when the language under Schedule I says stuff like “Tetrahydrocannabinols, except as otherwise provided by rules of the board for medicinal purposes,” but the point is there.  And therein lies the problem.  Marijuana has and has not accepted medical use – at the same time.  Under both schedules, there is language providing that if the board [of pharmacy] “ finds that any substance included in [either schedule] does not meet these criteria, it shall recommend that the general assembly place the substance in a different schedule or remove it from the list of controlled substances, as appropriate.”

Last week, as the Iowa Board of Pharmacy met in a regularly scheduled meeting, one of the items on the agenda was the continuing matter of medical marijuana.  Carl Olsen was there and taped the pertinent part of the meeting.  You can listen to a little over 20 minutes of the discussion here:  Audio Recording of November 2, 2010, Iowa Board of Pharmacy hearing (19 MB).  To summarize, the Board knows it has a dilemma.  It wants to communicate with the Iowa Legislature about a recommendation, but it doesn’t necessarily know what it wants to communicate or recommend.  At the beginning of the recording you can hear Lloyd Jensen, executive director of the Board, ask the members if they would like to write a letter to the Iowa Legislature, pre-file a bill, or both.

Discussion got off track as soon as Mr. Jensen mentioned the proposed rule that Carl Olsen had submitted for the Board’s consideration.  Several Board members wanted to wash their hands of the issue by suggesting that the Board of Medicine write a rule.  Uh-uh, the law says Board of Pharmacy must make any rules under Chapter 124 – the Code chapter that lists, defines, and categorizes controlled substances.

There was genuine concern about the FDA and DEA.  You could almost hear the wringing of hands.  However, the voice of reason – Lloyd Jensen – led them back to reality by informing them that they could just put everything into a bill.  “The legislators will pick and choose what they want to keep or throw out, if they do anything at all.”

One Board member made a motion to have the Legislative Rules Review Committee look at it and have them (sic) craft language.  The motion carried.  I hate to inform the Board that the LRRC does not craft language.  “Review” is basically all that committee can do.  It has other things that it can do, but it does not write rules.

Carl’s petition for rulemaking was shot down.  The reason for rejection may have been one or more reasons put forth to the Board by the Board’s attorney.  1)  It can’t be done; 2) it’s unclear; 3) it’s moot because the Board is making a recommendation to the Legislature; 4) refer to the previous order (which was issued last summer for another proposed rule); or, 5) deny it on the grounds that the Board doesn’t have the authority to negate criminal law.  There was some suggestion that the Board could draft a rule that wouldn’t take effect until some other rule, a statute, or federal movement occurred.  In effect, it would be sort of a “what if” rule.

At that point, after denying Carl’s petition for rulemaking for whatever reason (if there was one), the Board considered the matter done for the day and took a break.  The audio recording was over and I was left empty.  The Board never did come to a conclusion about how it was going to communicate to the Legislature, or what it was going to recommend.  I spoke with Carl later and he assured me that something will be done [by the Board].  I’m not holding my breath for this Legislature to do anything.

We encourage you to learn much more about this issue.  It’s one in which our readers can have a substantial edge of knowledge – more than most members of the Board of Pharmacy.  We’ll be exposing more inexperience on the Pharmacy Board, and offering additional information in the future.  Contact your legislators and urge them to “eliminate marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Chapter, Chapter 124.”  Only God should be able to be in two places at one time.

© Copyright 2010 Fawkes-Lee & Ryan.  All rights reserved.

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One Response to Government Proves Nuns Wrong

  1. Carl Olsen says:

    I spoke with Lloyd Jessen two days after the hearing and he assured me the board was going to pre-file legislation. He can’t guarantee that, because the board has the final say. Any pre-filed legislation has to be submitted by the end of this month, so we’ll know soon enough.

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