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On Tuesday, the House advanced HF 2589 to make changes to the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Program. Most changes came from recommendations by the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board. There are over 5,000 individuals with medical cannabidiol cards and that number continues to grow. The changes proposed in the bill will help expand the program responsibly while also carefully evaluating the impact this drug has on Iowans. Some of the biggest changes Iowans can expect include: Clearly defined THC levels- Current law caps THC at 3%. This is confusing for doctors and patients. The proposed language caps THC at 4.5g per 90 days. Options for higher THC levels. 4.5g may not work for people with terminal illness or some other conditions. HF 2589 allows a health care provider to recommend a patient for a higher THC level in these cases. It will be the responsibility of the health care provider to set the THC limit for the patient.

Expanded definition of health care provider. Finding a health care provider to recommend a medical cannabidiol card is the first step for patients. Originally, only doctors could provide this recommendation. Language is proposed to expand that list and include; physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses, and licensed podiatrists.

Removal of restrictions- Current law prohibits a person convicted of a disqualifying felony offense from having access to the medical cannabidiol program. The bill removes this language. A qualifying patient’s convictions are no longer used to determine if they can have a medical cannabidiol card.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in dispensaries- Medical cannabidiol dispensaries will be required to employ a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician to make dosing recommendations.

Business protections- With the growing popularity of the medical cannabidiol program, many businesses were concerned what impact it would have on their place policies. HF 2589 makes it clear that private businesses can keep their substance use policies in place and that a person who chooses to use a product with THC could face termination for not complying.

Preventing doctor shopping- Language is added to authorized employees of a medical cannabidiol dispensary to access information maintained by the Department of Public Health for the purpose of verifying the patient has not purchased more than the total THC allowed by code.

Author: Jon Thorup