Last Tuesday, multiple Senators from both sides of the aisle got into a quibble on the floor of the Iowa Senate. Click here to view the video in the Iowa Senate archives. Discussion begins at 27:35 of the video.
Republicans accused Senator Bolkcom of being disingenuous with his leadership on this issue, while Senator Bolkcom accused Governor Branstad of having made up his mind on medical cannabis forty years ago.
While I’m glad to see legislators finally discussing this issue, I have to agree with both points. As per usual, patients are getting screwed by a political class more concerned with reelection than compassion. Read about this abysmal mud slinging on the floor of the Iowa Senate last week below– then follow WeedPress on Facebook for more developments.
Madam President: The chair recognizes a Senator from Johnson. Senator Bolkcom.
Senator Joe Bolkcom: Good morning Madam President. Madam President, brief point?
Madaam President: You’re in order, Senator.
Senator Bolkcom: Thank you Madam President. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Senate. Governor Branstad, the former President of Des Moines University, isn’t listening to the medical cannabis debate. Legislative leaders from both parties say they are listening on this issue. They are open to moving forward. Sadly, Governor Branstad isn’t. He made up his mind forty years ago.
Senator Mark Chelgren: Point of order.
Madam President: State your point, Senator.
Senator Chelgren: It’s inappropriate in the Senate to make conjection of an elected offical of the state of Iowa and whether they’re listening or not listening. Whether Governor Branstad is listening or not is not an issue here, ok? I believe he does listen. I believe that’s an appropriate response for him. I believe that Governor Branstad is listening. The fact that he can make up a decision on his own, as opposed to being lectured on the floor of the Senate, that forty years ago he made that decision, I would disagree with, and I would think that the Senator should contain his comments directly about facts to this case, and not his personal opinion. Thank you.
Madam President: Thank you Senator. This is a point of personal privilege, Senator, do your best.
Senator Bolkcom: Thank you Madam President. If that means Iowa familiies suffer, if that means Iowa vets with PTSD leave the state, that’s just too bad. Governor Branstad apparently doesn’t hear that people are suffering. He doesn’t hear that Iowa medical leaders want change. He doesn’t apparently hear people telling us that Iowa needs a responsible, medically controlled way to distribute medical cannabis. He apparently doesn’t hear the facts that medical cannabis is much less dangerous, often more effective than expensive, pharmaceutical company produced alternatives. Governor Branstad isn’t listening. He’s on political auto-pilot on this issue, as with many other issues. Will Iowa move forward with a governor who thinks he’s heard it all, knows it all, and isn’t willing to change his mind? Well, even if you don’t care about medical cannabis as an issue – and you should – you should be very concerned that Iowa has a Governor who apparently doesn’t hear the concerns of Iowans that are suffering.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I believed we all received an email this morning from Rachel Selemski. Rachel is a former Iowan now living in Colorado with her family and her 22 month old daughter, Magdalene. Magdalene happens to suffer from a kind of epilepsy that has caused her repeated seizures, and they moved to Colorado late last year to get her the medicine she needed. She notes in her email this morning that she would like us all to watch a program tonight at 9 o’clock on CNN. It’s an update of a program Dr. Sanjay Gupta did about six months ago that actually kind of directed people’s attention to this epilepsy issue and the potential for cannabis to help these families. And by the way, there are hundreds of families from all over the country moving to Colorado to get the medicine they need. But tonight at 9 o’clock, if you’re by the TV, and I’d hope that folks downstairs might set the VCR, I’d encourage you to turn into that special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whose going to talk about cannabis. And finally I’d like to say, we can’t have an informed debate, either in this room or with the person that’s downstairs, unless we become informed. I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity tonight to learn a little bit more about this important topic. Thank you Madam President.
Press Daily Citizen: “Back in 2010, Democratic legislative leaders — facing an unfriendly electorate and an uncertain election — cited that decades-old provision as a way to punt the issue back to the board. That bit of political cowardice has slowed any further advancement to a glacial pace.”
Skip ahead to 34:44, and Republican Senator David Johnson, assistant minority leader, responds to Bolkcom:
Senator Johnson: Thank you, Madam President, and friends and collees of the Senate. Let’s set the record straight here — let’s really set the record straight. We’ve been asked that we should have an informed debate on medical cannabis. And yet the Senator who has been leading this charge, talked, and talked, and talked, and talked about that all session, while we heard from some of our constituents, that they would like us to have some consideration of that. Well, what happened? First funnel date rolls around, the bills are dropped. I’m the ranking member of Human Resources, I assigned myself to that bill because that Saturday before that I met a family from Hartley that would like us to explore that issue, and I wanted to be a part of that discussion for that family. But, the Senator who introduced the bills holds a press conference immediately and declares them dead because members of my party aren’t working with him! Well, burn your bridges, if that’s what you want. I think a disservice has been done to these families, by waiting until the last minute knowing full well there’s not going to be a subcommittee meeting or committee meeting before that first funnel date, so that we can consider something that’s important to these families. The word “disingenuous” comes to mind right away. Thank you Madam President.
Sen Breitbach: Senator Bolkcom cast a pretty wide net when he quoted the number of Republicans that have not supported his cannabis bill. I don’t believe I was ever asked for my input, and if he’s going to cast that wide of a net, I wish he’d please contact all of us for our opinions. Thank you.
Sen Kapucian (R Benton): You know Madam President, this is my sixth winter down here, and believe it or not — I’ve heard a lot of good points, by the way, this morning — believe it or not, I listen. I may be shuffling papers or looking at my laptop, but I do listen to all the comments, and all the debate. And the whole while I’ve been here, six years now, I’ve been in the minority. And the way I understand it, we can’t bring a bill to the floor. We don’t set the agenda in the minority. But yet I’m asked to vote on bills and bring them to the floor. These bills need to come to the floor, this bill needs to be done. We don’t control the agenda. That’s a simple reminder. I appreciate all the comments, but we don’t control the agenda. Thank you Madam President.
Senator Bolkcom: I think I feel like there is some developing support to get a bill done this year this morning from the conversation. So I’m going to bring around, I’m going to get one of the cosponsor sheets. There’s still hope to move a bill. Senator Breitbach, if you want to sign on, I’ve got a sheet coming to me right now, I’d be happy to. I mean, I think these parents that have come up here and talked to us, they don’t understand the process. They went out on the website that said here’s how a bill becomes law. This bill needs a cosponsor. I’ve got the sheet right here. See me.
Senator Dotzler: I apologize to the body for speaking a second time, but I don’t really mean it. I just want to say this. You know, you guys are selling yourself short over there when you say we control the agenda. We moved a wage payment bill out of this chamber, it had no support from you, and guess what the end result was? It would be just the same as if I were in the minority and you were in the majority and I proposed that bill. It died in the House. You have House members who talk to you, and your input’s important. So this is divided government. I view it the same way as if we were in a tie, and we are. We’re in a tie with the House. You know, Senator Kapucian, I know what you’re talking about, but you’re not without influence over there. And so, I think we can work together, and I know, because of the public hearings that were held — and I guess it wasn’t really a public hearing, but the subcommittee that Senator Bolkcom put together on the effects of this medical cannabis on families and how important it is. You know, Senator Bayton was thee, Senator Whitver, Senator Smith, and I gotta say, they sat there and listened. They paid attention to what was going on, and I appreciate that, because they were willing to educate themselves on this issue. And I hope our governor will do that also. I mean, I think people’s views do change. Young Maggie, the young girl who had the seizures, 500 a day, was told that she probably wouldn’t live more than a couple years, had to go to Colorado. And now her life has changed in the positive. Her mother’s amazed at what is going on. So, those are the kind of things that help us try to determine whether this is good for Iowa or not. I think we can work together as we educate ourselves, and thank you Senator McCoy for having the light hearing, and educating some other Senators that were there too. We can work together on this issue, we can get that done if we really wanted to.
Senator Chelgren: Thank you Madam chair. You know, it’s been an interesting conversation we’ve had today, and I think this comes down to a basic level of trust. This conversation started, with Senator Botiger bringing up the medical board, and whether or not a doctor, a physician, needs to be in a room with a patient in making that decision or dispensing the drugs that would cause an abortion. The conversation has gone to the point now that we’re talking about whether or not a doctor should be able to prescribe medical cannabis. I look at this as a trust issue. Do we trust the Board of Medicine, do we trust our physicians, to do what’s in the best interest of our patients? And in both cases I would say the answer is yes, we should trust them. I respectfully request, that we get a vote and a discussion in this chamber, about whether or not we should have telemedicine for dispensing abortion inducing drugs. In this chamber, an up or down vote is all I’m asking for. And I also would encourage the majority party to put forward a bill that would allow us to vote, with an up or down vote, on medical cannabis. Thank you.
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