Good news: Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill on May 12 which expands the state’s medical marijuana program. The existing law only covered epilepsy as a qualifying condition and will now cover Parkinson’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, AIDS or HIV, and Crohn’s disease by December 2018. Iowa’s new program will allow for two state-licensed medical cannabis manufacturers like Minnesota.
Bad news: Minnesota is working on an agreement which allows Iowa patients access to our program.
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt is working with the legislature to finalize a budget including an amendment permitting out-of-state residents to purchase their medicine here. Oddly enough, Daudt voted against the law creating Minnesota’s program in 2014.
But why is this bad news? While allowing Iowa residents to purchase medical cannabis in Minnesota could help patients who have to wait for the new law to come into effect, federal law still says marijuana is illegal, even for medicinal use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t think too highly of its healing powers either.
If a patient in Iowa buys and transports cannabinoid oils across state lines from Minnesota, this becomes a much more serious federal issue. Conservatives often favor state’s rights, but the Trump administration may rethink the decriminalization protections passed under Obama.
The passing of such a measure would effectively paint a target on Minnesota and Iowa for interstate drug trafficking and draw scrutiny from the feds.
We cannot afford to risk Minnesota’s medical marijuana program, which still fails to meet the needs of its patients. Iowa’s program needs improvement and its patients need help, but not at the cost of the Feds coming in and shutting down Minnesota’s program in two easy DEA raids. This has happened in other states and because Minnesota only has two manufacturers, it would be an especially simple endeavor.
There are a number of good things Minnesota lawmakers could do to make our program viable, but this is not one of them. Call for the governor to veto any bill with such an amendment.
Please also contact your local representative and let them know your concerns. You can find your representative here.
If you want some help, here is a script you could use:
Hi, my name is ________ and I am concerned about the proposed budget amendment to allow Iowa patients to purchase medical cannabis in Minnesota. I have serious concerns about federal enforcement by legislating interstate commerce of a federally illegal, Schedule I substance. Although this would help lower costs for patients and provide a larger patient base for Minnesota’s producers, we cannot afford to become a bigger target for federal enforcement.
Please be polite and stick with just the topic at hand. If you have other concerns or questions please do that in another email/phone call.
Join us on June 2nd for the Minnesota Cannabis Summit to learn more about the interplay of state and federal law. You can get more information and register by visiting bit.ly/sensisummit.