Capitol Update: Week 13

Medical Marijuana Discussions Ongoing

As this year’s legislative session gets closer to the end, we are still working on major issues. One of these issues is medical marijuana and determining if this product would be right for Iowa. In an effort to learn more, I alongside other legislators have had two unique opportunities in the past week to meet with medical experts, scientists and those in the medical marijuana industry to understand the risks and benefits of changing Iowa’s law.

On Monday, I participated in a tour and discussion at Kemin Industries in Des Moines.  Kemin is an Iowa company, but their impact is felt across the world through ingredient manufacturing and research. Kemin is not involved with medical marijuana.  They make extractions from different plants, including potatoes and marigolds that have benefited animals, and humans. I toured the facility to see how extraction is done.  Kemin uses many processes that would also be used by a company who might extract Cannabis Oil out of a marijuana plant.  Learning about the extraction process helped legislators to better understand how a marijuana production facility might work, if it were ever legal in Iowa.  Doing the proper research into an issue helps me to decide whether or not it is something I want to support.  This trip was part of that process.

While at Kemin, members also had the opportunity to speak with medical marijuana growers, producers and sellers from states that allow marijuana production.  These individuals clearly want Iowa to legalize medical marijuana, but it was helpful to have their insight into arguments both for and against legalization. Talking with these business owners helped clarify how medical marijuana could be grown, processed and sold in our state and what risks are associated with such actions.

On Tuesday, a representative from a medical marijuana company in Minnesota took the time to speak with legislators about their program. Minnesota has faced some problems while implementing the program and talking with people involved with the program has helped clarify options Iowa might consider in the future.

The current law allows a person with intractable epilepsy to get a card that that permits them and their caregivers the right to possess cannabis oil in a medical form.  This law will sunset on June 30th, 2017.  To allow these people to continue to possess the product we will need to lift the sunset.  These families cannot get the medication in Iowa.  This issue is part of the reason that we are having discussions about medical marijuana.

As of now, there is no medical marijuana plan for Iowa, but conversations are ongoing. The most important thing on an issue like this is to ensure legislators are educated on both sides of the issue so they can make informed decisions that work for everyone in the state.

Texting and Driving

SF 234 was approved by the Senate and was subsequently approved by the House Transportation Committee.

This bill simply upgrades texting and driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense.  SF 234 allows for drivers to use their phones in hands-free mode and regular mode as well as using their phone as a GPS. It allows for peace officers to pull someone over for a suspected violation of texting while driving. However, it does not make texting and driving a moving violation. The fine for this remains $30.

This bill changes the definition of “electronic message” to include images visible on the screen of a hand-held electronic communication device including a text-based message, an instant message, a portion of electronic mail, an internet site, a social media application, or a game. This update now includes applications such as Facebook.

News from District 96

SF493 passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.  This bill allows Lake Delhi, as a 357E entity, to issue bonds as cities are allowed to.  This bill is an important part of reviving the Delhi community.  The bill is now eligible for floor debate.

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