By Carl Olsen Iowans for Medical Marijuana Medical use of cannabis has been accepted by 14 states — yet not one of these has challenged the federal misclassification of cannabis as having “no accepted medical use” for treatment in the US.
Instead, the first step to initiate such an official challenge to the federal ban comes from a non-medical use state. Iowans for Medical Marijuana (IMM) began the process of legalizing medical use of cannabis in 2008 by asking the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to review its classification of cannabis as having no accepted medical use in treatment — the same language fed- eral drug law uses.
IMM obtained a court order April 21, 2009, forcing the Board to reconsider this classification. On Feb. 17, 2010, the Board recommended the Iowa Legislature remove cannabis from its current classification after holding public hearings across the state and reviewing the most current scientific and medical information available. The Board also recommended the state create a program to provide access to cannabis for patients who need it.
If the Legislature accepts the Board’s recommendation, Iowa could be the first state to position itself to challenge federal classification of cannabis, based on currently accepted medical use and supported by a thorough review of the latest scientific and medical information.
However, Iowa law requires the Board to complete a detailed analysis of the information it received and explain how it applied the criteria to the evidence. The Board claims it lacks funds to complete such an analysis. On April 13, IMM filed another lawsuit to force the Board to complete its work and issue the analysis.
Once this is done, Iowa will be in a position to challenge the federal classification in a three-pronged approach: by the executive (Iowa Board of Pharmacy), judicial, and legislative branches of state government.
The IMM hopes this process will become a national model and lay the foundation for the next generation of state med- ical marijuana laws aimed at protecting patients from federal law.
Activists in all states that have legal medical use could initiate the process by forcing their states to consider the criteria that Congress created to amend the federal classification of any drug.