Senator Joe Bolckom’s testimony, October 7th, 2009

SEN JOE BOLKCOM: Good afternoon. My name is Joe Bolkcom. I’m a member of the Iowa Senate. I live here in Iowa City at 728 Second Avenue. Page break
And I’d like to start by thanking the members of the Iowa Pharmacy Board for coming to Iowa City today to take testimony from Iowans about the medical efficacy of marijuana. I would like to thank the Board of Pharmacy for their leadership in bringing this important issue and this sensitive topic to the attention of Iowans.
I’d especially like to thank Board member Whitworth who’s here and the executive director, mr. Jessen, for their leadership on this issue.
Over the course of the last couple of months, the board has been conducting a series of four public hearings around Iowa to seek input from medical professionals, patients, and the public about their views on this important issue.
I think the work of the board is important for two reasnos. You are providing a forum for Iowans to have their voices heard, and at the same time you are educating Iowans about this topic. I share your view on the need to review and evaluate the research evidence on the benefits and risks of marijuana use as a medical treatment. I expect that we will learn much from your work.
This year I introduced Senate File 293, Page Break a bill to allow a person with a debilitating condition and a physician’s prescription to legally obtain marijuana for to medicinal use.
Since introducing the bill, I have received dozens of e-mails on this topic from people across our state. More than 95 percent of those e-mails and correspondence have been supportive of legalizing the use of marijuana for certain diagnosed medical conditions.
I have frankly been impressed by the intimate and personal medical stories I have heard from people across our state who suffer daily with chronic pain or chronic conditions that substantially reduce their ability to live a normal life free of pain.
This past March, a subcommittee meeting on Senate File 293 was held at the state capitol, and it attracted 35 people to discuss this issue. There were several people that shared personal stories about their trials and tribulations with diseases like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathic gastroparalysis, and their experiences with powerful prescription drugs that do not address their pain and suffering. Page Break
I have heard from chronically ill people who have been prescribed all the most powerful narcotics available at any pharmacy with little positive effect, drugsl ike morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, drugs, by the way, that have powerful side effects.
I have heard from those who would like to use marijuana but are afraid of the legal consequences, and I’ve heard from people who have illegally obtained the use of marijuana for medical purposes in spite of the law.
I’ve really gained a new appreciation of the personal and extremely difficult health conditions and stress under which many Iowans live every day.
Your work is timely. Thirteen states have already moved to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. This last year, fourteen — fourteen other states across our country, legislation, was introduced to do the same. Even last month, the Older Iowa Legislature voted to support legislative action legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
As you have heard at your first two hearings and as you will hear today, there’s much patient interest in your work. I’m hopeful that Page Break after a thorough review of the research and informed input from Iowans that the board will conclude that marijuana does have medical benefits that would improve the quality of life for many, many Iowans suffering with chronic pain and conditions.
Thank you for being here again today, and I look forward to learning more about this topic from those that are here to provide testimony. Thank you.
LLOYD JESSEN: Thank you, Senator. Welcome. Our next scheduled person to speak is Kevin Litten. Is Ron Herman here? Okay. Well, we could take whoever would like to speak at this point.

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