Iowa legalized medical cannabis in 2014, but the rate at which the state has adapted to the changing realities of the industry is so slow that many have been left frustrated by how oblivious the state legislature is to the things that laypeople see every day. Of specific concern are the three issues below.
The Number of Licensed Dispensaries
The entire state of Iowa has only five medical cannabis dispensaries from which patients can legally acquire what they need for their health challenges. For example, Cedar Rapids doesn’t have any licensed dispensary within its borders and yet this is the second largest city in the state. How is it possible that no dispensary is located there and yet there is no local bylaw banning cannabis businesses from operating there?
This just goes to show that the authorities didn’t consider the demand for medical cannabis when passing the law that restricted the number of licensed dispensaries to just five. What they may not know is that such a limit can unwittingly encourage the black market to thrive in the state since the illicit supply can easily reach every corner of the state.
The Cap on THC Levels
The regulations in place limit how much THC medical cannabis can contain to 3 percent. THC is the cannabinoid that makes people “high”. The board overseeing the medical cannabis program voted unanimously to retain the 3 percent limit on THC for another year or two before revisiting the matter.
While it may be reasonable to set a limit on how much THC people consume when they buy medical cannabis, such a limit should not be so low that patients will be compelled to consume a larger quantity of cannabis in order to get the desired effects.
It would be better for the authorities to provide a rationale for that 3 percent THC limit and get feedback from experts and the public on the same before enacting it into law. As things stand, patients may be compelled to spend more money buying a larger quantity of cannabis since there is no cap on the quantity they can buy.
The Qualifying Conditions
Iowa is operating as though it is the first state to legalize medical cannabis and yet there are several precedents to learn from. California is reputed to have some of the strictest regulatory controls not just for medical cannabis but for everything else. However, California created a list of dozens of conditions for which medical cannabis could be bought long before recreational cannabis was legalized.
Iowa started by allowing medical cannabis for only epilepsy, then eased up a bit in 2017 to include a few more conditions. What is baffling is that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD and bi-polar weren’t added to the list and yet nearly all other states include them among the qualifying conditions.
All in all, the board in charge of the medical marijuana program needs to be more foresighted and stop being reactive in its approach. Otherwise, the program will not attain its intended objectives. No one, including Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE: VIDA) (OTCQX: PHVAF) and Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE), would want this beneficial program to fail.
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