Current Events, Legal, Politics, Rescheduling

“The Governor supports medical cannabis, because that is the official position of his administration”

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 legally use medical cannabis. George was one of the plaintiffs who sued the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in 2008. George is pictured here outside of the Board hearing in Mason City, Iowa as he is being interviewed by local media.

George McMahon is one of two Iowans who legally use medical cannabis. George is pictured here outside of the Board hearing in Mason City, Iowa, as he is being interviewed by local media.

“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.

Carl Olsen stands over the scientific evidence that was presented to the Board of Pharmacy in 2009. Experts from all over the world testified in front of the Board before the Board unanimously recommended cannabis be legalized for medical purposes in Iowa.

Carl Olsen stands over the scientific evidence that was presented to the Board of Pharmacy in 2009. Experts from all over the world testified in front of the Board before the Board unanimously recommended cannabis be legalized for medical purposes in Iowa.

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

See also Misinformed Terry Branstad on Medical Marijuana.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on ““The Governor supports medical cannabis, because that is the official position of his administration”

  1. Jason took so long to post this article that an Iowa District Court Judge ruled two days ago that the Iowa Board of Pharmacy no longer supports the medical use of marijuana. So, this whole article is pretty much a waste of ink and paper now. My attorney is checking with the board to make sure they agree with the judge’s ruling, because their attorney said at trial last month that they still support it. Confusing? It sure has me confused. My attorney wants to file the case over and submit every scrap of evidence that board has received on this issue since 2008, but we may be able to get the board to stipulate to parts of it. They should be able to agree that everything submitted up to 2010 when they made their unanimous ruling in favor of medical marijuana actually did prove that marijuana has medical use. Anyway, stay tuned on this one because it ain’t over yet.

    Posted by Carl Olsen | February 21, 2014, 5:57 pm
  2. You sir, are my hero.

    Posted by Ben Lawhon | February 22, 2014, 4:50 pm
  3. I finally talked to my attorney two days ago. At trial, the board’s attorney said the board still thinks marijuana is medicine, but the board does not think they need to advise the legislature more than once. What that means is that the board does not want to see any more evidence because they agree that cannabis is medicine and more evidence is not going to change their opinion. So, the judge’s ruling on sufficiency of the evidence is moot if both sides agree the evidence means the same thing. The only question is whether the board has a duty to advise the legislators annually, rather than just once in 2010, if they think marijuana is in the wrong classification. Iowa Code Chapter 124 Section 203 makes it clear the board has to advise the legislators when anything in schedule I no longer fits the condition of having no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. If the board thinks marijuana is medicine, then they have a duty to notify the legislature annually until the legislature relieves them of that statutory duty.

    Posted by Carl Olsen | March 4, 2014, 5:59 am

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