DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa’s new program on Medical Marijuana Oil was already approved to begin on July 1 during the state’s previous legislative session, but according to some manufacturers from other states, the success of the Iowa’s effort for the program is vague.
The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office forecasted 6,022 patient enrollees for this new program in Iowa. This program will allow people with specific medical conditions to take cannabis oil as a treatment.
Such as those who are diagnosed with cancer, seizures, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, untreatable pain, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and those with terminal ailments with less than a year of life expectancy.
But it will be a struggle to obtain supplies as there are no immediate suppliers and manufacturers of the oil yet in the state. And the producers from the other states doubt that the program will be sustainable if there will not be enough enrollees.
The CEO of a medical marijuana distributor based in Colorado, MedPharm, Albert Gutierrez said that profit margins would still be slim even if the forecasted number of enrollees of for the state’s new cannabis program 6,022 comes true.
Also, CEO Andrew Bachman of Leaflabs, one of the two licensed manufacturers of medical marijuana in Minnesota, said that they expected to start their company with a low number of patients and is presently ahead of their business timeframe and target plans. But in his opinion, Iowa manufacturers might take a little longer to reach their goals and consistent sales.
This is by foreseeing the possible lower number of patients in Iowa compared to Minnesota which could be significantly lower. Minnesota has a population of around 5.5 million, while Iowa with only more than 3.1 million.
In fact, Minnesota’s cannabis law with the similar program will be two years in the next month but still has enrollees less than 6,000 people, according to Bachman.
Under the Medical Marijuana Oil Program of Iowa, two manufacturers will be issued a license and can exclusively start supplying for the state’s medical marijuana demands starting in December of next year.
Iowa will also issue manufacturing license to distribute the cannabis drug for up to five in-state dispensaries. And these manufacturers can try to persuade the government to develop and broaden the current scope the law, said Sen. Joe Bolkcom of D-Iowa City.
Another challenge for the potential manufacturers is the limited allowable tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. The state has set a standard amount of 3%, which is considered too little to be useful for treatment. Eating of food containing marijuana, including smoking and vaporizing is also banned in Iowa.
Recommendations for the state’s new program could be made by The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board. But it is still uncertain when the panel members for the said board will be designated as the process of searching for potential members has not been started yet by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Any recommendations by The Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board needs to be approved by the Legislature or Board of Medicine before its official implementation.
Additionally, no funds for the new cannabis program were included in the Legislative’s budget plans, so the financing of Iowa’s new program has yet to be figured out by the agencies of the state on how to budget it through 2018.
With a lot of potential challenges ahead for Iowa’s Medical Marijuana Oil Program, how and what efforts will the state do make it self-sustaining?