IA: City Council To Vote On Resolution Supporting Medical Marijuana Oil Dispensary In Council Bluffs

Photo Credit: GW Pharmaceuticals

The Council Bluffs City Council will vote on a resolution in support of a medical marijuana oil dispensary in the city at its meeting Monday night.

Councilman Roger Sandau brought the resolution forward. He said he’d like Council Bluffs residents to have access to a dispensary in the city instead of having to travel for the oil, called cannabidiol, or CBD oil.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is currently in the process of licensing up to five dispensaries statewide for the Medical Cannabidiol Program. Applications were due on Thursday, and licenses will be issued by April 1.

“The state will be granting five dispensaries; I believe locating one of the five in Council Bluffs will be a benefit to the community,” Sandau said. “The residents of Council Bluffs will have access to any of the dispensaries in Iowa, but one in our town will be the best option.”

A message left with the Department of Public Health wasn’t immediately returned Friday on questions regarding whether the resolution, if passed, would be factored into the decision on which cities will have a dispensary.

Councilwoman Melissa Head told The Nonpareil she will support the resolution. In a Facebook post, Councilman Mike Wolf said he supports the resolution, noting, “The science behind the use of cannabidiol oil to reduce and hopefully alleviate pain is sound.”

Councilman Nate Watson agreed.

“I support science, including the appropriate and regulated use of medical cannabidiol to treat certain debilitating medical conditions,” he said in a Facebook post. “I do not think it appropriate to express a preference for one private business over another. I will support a resolution of general support for our community.”

Attempts to reach Councilwoman Sharon White on Friday weren’t immediately successful.

Earlier this week, Mayor Matt Walsh said he had declined to endorse C&G Management to operate a dispensary in the city.

“I told them ‘no,’ but I also told them that I would not forward a letter of support for any other firm,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that the C&G Management representative did not ask that he take the matter to the City Council for a vote.

The City Council in Sioux City voted 4-1 Monday night to support those who want to open a medical marijuana oil dispensary in Sioux City. Officials in West Des Moines have also been contacted about the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary.

One company, MedPharm, has been approved to sell medical marijuana in Iowa and had requested the Sioux City letter of support. The council instead decided to include support for any entity willing to do business with the city for a dispensary.

The Council Bluffs resolution is similar in that it doesn’t endorse a particular company.

Effective May 12, 2017, House File 524 established Iowa Code chapter 124E, the Medical Cannabidiol Act, allowing for the use of medical cannabidiol to treat certain debilitating medical conditions.

Those conditions currently are: cancer (with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting); multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms; seizures; AIDS or HIV (as defined in section 141A.1); Crohn’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); any terminal illness with a probable life expectancy of under one year (if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting; cachexia or severe wasting); Parkinson’s disease; and untreatable pain.

CBD products are already available in Council Bluffs, though at lower THC levels, at CBD American Shaman on the corner of 27th Street and Second Avenue. Manager Lee Carson said the distinction between his products and what would be available at dispensaries is the amount of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive ingredient derived from hemp and marijuana.

“It has to be less than 1/3 of 1 percent THC by weight of the hemp,” Carson said.

The Iowa law regarding CBD dispensaries restricts THC levels to 3 percent or less. For comparison, Leafly.com, an outlet dedicated to the cannabis industry, notes higher-potency strains of marijuana have THC levels in the 20 to 30 percent range.

Carson said his products are derived from Norwegian hemp and checked by the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. A prescription is not required to purchase products at the store.