While Governor Branstad understandably opposes loosely regulated states like California, Branstad’s administration officially supports medical cannabis.
If that confuses you, read on.
Longtime cannabis activist Carl Olsen opines:
“George McMahon is one of two Iowans who has legally used medical cannabis for over 20 years. George was one of the plaintiffs who sued the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in 2008. George’s lawsuit prompted the Board to hold a series of public hearings on medical cannabis around the state from August of 2009 through November of 2009.
At the conclusion of those hearings, in February of 2010, the Board unanimously recommended that cannabis be removed from schedule I of the Iowa Uniform Controlled Substances Act because it no longer meets the condition of having no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is a division of the Iowa Department of Public Health, which filed a bill in the Iowa Legislature in December of 2010 to reclassify marijuana as medicine in Iowa.
A recent ruling in the juvenile home case by Iowa District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg on February 5, 2014, casts some light on this situation. Judge Rosenberg wrote: “The actions, therefore, of the Director of the Department of Human Services are thus the actions of the executive branch and, therefore, the actions of the Governor of the State of Iowa.” —Homan v. Branstad, No. 05771-EQCE075765 (February 5, 2014), at pages 10-11.
Just as the administrator of the Iowa Department of Human Services cannot shut down the juvenile home, neither can the Iowa Board of Pharmacy ignore a statute that says schedule I is only for substances with no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. The constitutional issue in the juvenile home case was whether the administrator was making a reasonable interpretation of the statute that enables the juvenile home by closing it. The legislature wrote that law and the Governor signed it. The administrator is acting for the governor, because it’s an executive branch agency.
The Legislature has thus far ignored the advice of the pharmacy board, but that is not the same as refusing it. Refusing it would mean they actually took the time to consider it, which they did not. If the Legislature wants the pharmacy board to stop giving advice, the Legislature would have to repeal the law which gives the pharmacy board that duty.
What this means is that administrative agencies represent the Governor because they are all under the executive branch. The Legislature and the Governor signed the legislation funding the Juvenile Home, so they can’t close it down by an administrative order. This is the same issue I have in my current case with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, and I have the same judge and state attorney that are involved in the Juvenile Home case. The statute the Board of Pharmacy is trying to ignore is their duty to advise the Legislature “annually” on the classification of controlled substances.
Iowa Code Chapter 124, Section 201(1) says: “Annually, within thirty days after the convening of each regular session of the general assembly, the board shall recommend to the general assembly any deletions from, or revisions in the schedules of substances, enumerated in section 124.204, 124.206, 124.208, 124.210, or 124.212, which it deems necessary or advisable.”
Iowa Code Chapter 124, Section 203(2) says: “If the board finds that any substance included in schedule I does not meet these criteria, the board shall recommend that the general assembly place the substance in a different schedule or remove the substance from the list of controlled substances, as appropriate.”
Four years ago, the Board said marijuana is in the wrong schedule. The board thinks they only have to advise the Legislature once, but the statute says they have to do it annually. Iowa District Court Judge Scott Rosenberg has already ruled against the Board’s motion to dismiss Carl’s case last October and made two rulings: (1) the board has an annual duty to advise the Legislature on scheduling; and (2) the existence of medical marijuana laws in 20 other states make this a matter of public importance here in Iowa. See Olsen v. Iowa Board of Pharmacy, No. 05771-CVCV045505 (October 23, 2013), at page 6.
So, contrary to what you hear about Governor Branstad opposing medical marijuana, the official position of his administration is that he supports it. I have a letter from the Governor in response to my recent inquiry about medical marijuana telling me to ask the Iowa Department of Public Health for their position on the question (they support medical marijuana), and a letter from the Iowa Department of Public Health in response to that letter telling me to ask the Iowa Board of Pharmacy (they also support medical marijuana). So, you see, the Governor is telling us he supports medical marijuana, because that is the official position of his administration. If more people understood this, we could get through the fog a lot quicker.
When the Governor says he does not support medical marijuana, nobody even challenges it. They just go around repeating what the Governor said, which is not the official position of his administration.” — Carl Olsen, Iowans for Medical Marijuana
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