A mother from Davenport echoed several Iowans who took their criticism of Iowa's medical cannabis law to the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Tina McDermott's 7-year-old son, Ryan, suffers an intractable epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. A state law passed earlier this year was supposed to allow Ryan and others with his condition access to cannabidiol-rich cannabis oil for treatment.
"Not one thing has been done yet so that any of our kids can try this," McDermott said. "So, really, it’s pretty worthless, if you ask me. It’s a baby step into it. For people like Ryan who need it now, they cannot wait."
A group called Iowans 4 Medical Cannabis has formed to promote safe and regulated access to medical cannabis for Iowa patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions.
Katie Krug, a Grimes, Iowa, woman who suffers from ulcerative colitis, similar to Crohn's, spoke at Tuesday's event in Des Moines to announce the group's formation.
"This really is a medication," Krug said in a phone interview with the Quad-City Times. "I’d like to see Iowa approve it and have dispensaries so we know exactly what we’re getting. I'm not looking to get high. I want medicine to treat my disease."
The group took issue with the current law, which Gov. Terry Branstad signed July 1, to allow access to cannabis for patients suffering intractable epilepsy. One problem it noted is that the state-issued medical cannabis cards needed to legally possess the oil are still not available after six months. And even once they are available, the Iowa cards wouldn't be recognized in other states that have medical cannabis laws, with the exception of Oregon.
West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer, whose 24-year-old daughter, Margaret, also suffers from Dravet syndrome, is hopeful the Legislature will expand on the current bill.
"We want to make sure the law that passed works for people," Gaer said. "Right now, it doesn’t work because they can’t get it."
A Branstad spokesman responded to Tuesday's criticism.
"Gov. Branstad empathizes with the families of those exploring treatment options for epilepsy and other medical ailments," Jimmy Centers said in a statement emailed to the Times. "He believes the bipartisan program passed in Iowa needs time to take effect and its results evaluated before exploring expansion into other illnesses or increasing the production, processing and distribution in Iowa."
Iowa state Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said he plans to put forth a bipartisan bill to expand Iowa's medical cannabis law in the session scheduled to start next month.
"We want to establish within Iowa an ability to grow, produce and dispense medical cannabis," Bolkcom said. "The medicine has to be produced within the state. That's a major omission from our law."