In 2014, the Iowa Legislature passed a bipartisan medical cannabis decriminalization bill, Senate File 2360, only for people living with intractable epilepsy.  The new law decriminalizes possession of cannabis oil for severe epilepsy patients and their caregivers who obtain a recommendation from a practicing neurologist in Iowa and obtain a state-issued ID card. Unfortunately, the families are unable to access it out of state. In addition, the current law has left out Iowans with other serious medical conditions that would benefit from a medical cannabis program.

Federal Legality of States Medical Cannabis Laws

Executive Branch: Attorney General

The federal government has made a policy decision to respect states’ medical marijuana laws. The “Ogden Memo” issued on Oct 19, 2009 by the Attorney General states that Federal priority will not be given for pursuing medical patients in accordance with their state laws.  “For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” See the full memo here.


In December 2014, Congress passed the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, legislation that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The Amendment states: “None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States…to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”  See full text here.

The Constitution

The doctrine of “dual sovereignty” permits both the states and federal government to adopt criminal laws, and each sovereign may enforce those laws within a given state. States are free to pass medical marijuana laws that exempt certain people from criminal liability under state law, and state employees do not break federal law by licensing and regulating activities that are legal under state law. The “structure and limitations of federalism…allow the States “ ‘great latitude under their police powers to legislate as to the protection of the lives, limbs, health, comfort, and quiet of all persons.’” Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243,270 (2006). States are free to exercise their regulatory, licensing, and zoning powers to establish the limits of legal conduct under state law. No state employee has ever been arrested or threatened with arrest for licensing or regulating a medical marijuana dispensary.

States can regulate health care according to the 10th Amendment. The 10th Amendment states “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’


Plants and foods that exist in nature are not typically regulated by the FDA in their natural form.  The FDA also does not approve medical foods. Unlike new drugs, dietary supplements are not reviewed and approved by FDA based on their safety and effectiveness. Drugs that would be prescribed by a physician, however, require FDA Approval. Isolated extracts of the cannabis plant prescribed as medicine must pursue FDA approval, but not necessarily the plant itself.  FDA is part of Health and Human Services (HHS), which owns several patents on cannabinoids for health benefits.  The FDA is not a deciding body for any plant that already exists in its natural form in nature.    

* These statements were prepared with assistance from the ACLU of Iowa.

Medical Cannabis

There is Significant Support of Medical Marijuana in Iowa

See Dr. Steven Jennison, a University of Iowa Graduate and former New Mexico Medical Cannabis program director, explain how the research behind a cannabis program and demonstrate how a responsible cannabis program works. 

Research --Controlled studies showing efficacy
Multiple Sclerosis

What forms of cannabis ARE available?

• Cannabis can be inhaled

• Taken orally

• Nasal and oral-mucosally

• Topically

• Injested as juices and teas

• Rectal absorption.  

Learn more.

Is a medical cannabis program federally legal? Do we need to wait for the FDA?

Cannabis is legal for medical purposes in 23 states plus DC.  It is estimated that over 75% of americans have access to medical cannabis based on population statistics. The FDA is not an authoritative body for plants that exist in nature.  Learn more about the Federal government allowing states medical cannabis programs.   

How much Cannabis is needed, dosing, ounces per month?

State medical cannabis programs vary greatly, depending on the amount patients are allowed to grow and the state's political climate. Learn more.

Here are some effective arguments about medical cannabis from MPP.org, click here.



20 medical studies that can prove cannabis can cure cancer.

Position Statements:

Cancer.gov http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4
American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/marijuana-and-cancer
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: http://www.maps.org/research-archive/mmj/lnls-res.pdf
Americans for Safe Access: Cancer booklet http://www.safeaccessnow.org/cancer_booklet
Cannabisforthecure.com http://www.cannabisforthecure.mmjiq.com/
Further evidence that cannabis reduces tumor growth. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279571.php

20 medical studies that can prove cannabis can cure cancer. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/08/23/20-medical-studies-that-prove-cannabis-can-cure-cancer/

Selected scholarly research publications:

Antiemetic effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy

SE Sallan, NE Zinberg, E Frei III - New England Journal of …, 1975 - Mass Medical Soc

... J. Thomas, Therese Andrysiak, Lynn Fairbanks, James Goodnight, Gregory Sarna, Kay Jamison.
Cannabis and cancer chemotherapy. ... ROBERT MARGOLIS, NANCY POPKIN. (1980)
Marijuana: A Review of Medical Research With Implications for Adolescents. ...

Therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy‐induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients: systematic review and meta‐analysis

FC Machado Rocha, SC Stefano… - … journal of cancer …, 2008 - Wiley Online Library

... therapy', 'chemical and pharmacologic phenomena', 'neoplasms', 'antineoplastic and
immunosuppressive agents', '
marijuana abuse', 'Cannabis', 'randomized controlled ... double-blind
method', 'single-blind method', 'clinical trials', 'placebos', '
research design', 'comparative ...

Effects of smoked cannabis and oral Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on nausea and emesis after cancer chemotherapy: a review of state clinical trials

RE Musty, R Rossi - Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, 2001 - Taylor & Francis

... Page 10. JOURNAL OF CANNABIS THERAPEUTICS 38 ... DISCUSSION Even though slightly
different methods and different
research de- signs were used in these studies, it is clear that
marijuana was Page 11. Richard E. Musty and Rita Rossi 39 ...

Therapeutic aspects of cannabis and cannabinoids

P Robson - The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2001 - RCP

... A pilot study of smoked marijuana and oral THC (15 mg) in 11 glaucoma patients ... He then smoked
cannabis on seven occasions over a 3-week period and suffered three fits ... Basic research indicates
that THC and analogues inhibit opioid withdrawal (Chesher & Jackson, 1985). 

Cannabinoids for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting: quantitative systematic review

MR Tramèr, D Carroll, FA Campbell, DJM Reynolds… - Bmj, 2001 - bmj.com

... b Pain Research, Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Churchill, Oxford Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
OX3 7LJ; 
... physical and neuropsychiatric adverse effects of long term use of cannabis are well
established, based mainly on observations from long term
marijuana smokers.62 ...

… cancer-related anorexia-cachexia syndrome: a multicenter, phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial from the Cannabis-In-Cachexia-Study …

F Strasser, D Luftner, K Possinger, G Ernst… - Journal of Clinical …, 2006 - jco.ascopubs.org

... sclerosis 15-17 or pain 18 have evaluated oral mixtures of THC and CBD or whole-plant cannabis
extract (CE), replacing smoked marijuana... blind, placebo (PL)-controlled, three-arm, parallel study,
which was sponsored by the Institute for Clinical
Research, Berlin, adhered ...

Multiple Sclerosis

The National MS Society " supports the rights of people with MS to work with their MS health care providers to access marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations in those states where such use has been approved."  Read full statement here: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS/Complementary-Alternative-Medicines/Marijuana

Medical Cannabis and MS Peer Reviewed Studies

Brady, C. M., et al. An open-label pilot study of cannabis-based extracts for bladder dysfunction in advanced multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2004 Aug;10(4):425-33.

Collin C. et al. Randomized controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. Eur J Neurol. 2007 Mar. 14(3):290-6.

Consroe, P. et al. The perceived effects of smoked cannabis on patients with multiple sclerosis. Eur Neurol. 1997;38(1):44-8.

Corey-Bloom, Jody, et al. Smoked cannabis for spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. CMAJ July 10, 2012 184:1143-1150; published ahead of print May 14, 2012, doi:10.1503/cmaj.110837.

Flachenecker P., Henze T., Zettl U. K. Long-Term Effectiveness and Safety of Nabiximols (Tetrahydrocannabinol/Cannabidiol Oromucosal Spray) in Clinical Practice. Eur Neurol 2014;72:95-102.

Johnson, Jeremy R. et al. Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable Cancer-Related Pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Vol. 39, Issue 2 , 167-179.

Vaney C., et al. Efficacy, safety and tolerability of an orally administered cannabis extract in the treatment of spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Mult Scler. 2004 Aug. 10(4):417-24.

Wade, D.T. Do cannabis-based medicinal extracts have general or specific effects on symptoms in multiple sclerosis? A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study on 160 patients. Mult Scler. 2004 Aug. 10(4):434-41.

Whittle, B.A., Guy, G.W., Robson, P. Prospects for New Cannabis-Based Prescription Medicines. J Cannabis Ther 2001(3/4):133-152.

Zajicek, John Peter, et al. Multiple Sclerosis and Extract of Cannabis: Results of the MUSEC Trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2012; 83:11 1125-1132 Published Online First: 12 July 2012 doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-302468.



Safety and Efficacy: https://www.aesnet.org/meetings_events/annual_meeting_abstracts/view/1868751

GW Pharma's preliminary findings: http://www.gwpharm.com/Clinical%20Use.aspx
GW Pharma's phase I results:  http://www.gwpharm.com/GW%20Pharmaceuticals%20Announces%20Physician%20Reports%20of%20Epidiolex%20Treatment%20Effect%20in%20Children%20and%20Young%20Adults%20with%20Treatment-Resistant%20Epilepsy%20from%20Physician-Led%20Expanded%20Access%20Treatment%20Program.aspx  


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24237632 Porter BE1, Jacobson C.. Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. 2013 Dec;29(3):574-7
http://web.acsalaska.net/~warmgun/es201.html- Cunha et al., “Chronic Administration of Cannabidiol toHealthy Volunteers and Epileptic Patients.sup.1,” Pharmacology,21:175-185 (1980).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6271840 Turkanis et al., “Electrophysiologic Properties of theCannabinoids,” J. Clin. Pharmacology.,21:449S-463S (1981).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7028792 Carlini et al., “Hypnotic and Antielpileptic Effects ofCannabidiol,” J. Clin. Pharmacology.,21:417S-427S (1981). 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6975285- Karler et al., “The Cannabinoids as PotentialAntiepileptics,” J. Clin. Pharmacology.,21:437S-448S (1981). 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7298873- Consroe et al.,“Antiepileptic Potential of CannabidiolAnalgos,” J. Clin. Pharmacology.,21:428S-436S (1981).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/850145- J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1977 Apr;201(1):26-32.Cannabidiol--antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions inexperimentally induced seizures in rats.