Iowa Governor Sued Over Delay In Asking For Federal Medical Marijuana Exemption From DEA
Iowa’s governor is facing a new lawsuit from a marijuana activist who is demanding that the state promptly seek a federal exemption for its medical cannabis program as prescribed in a law signed last year.
Carl Olsen filed the suit in a state district court on Sunday. It argues that the Department of Health has unnecessarily delayed submitting a request for an exemption from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has failed to ensure that the state law is effectively carried out.
Under House File 2589 as signed by Reynolds, the department “shall request guarantees from the agencies of the federal government providing funding to educational and long-term care facilities” that allow patients to possess medical cannabis or staff to administer it in compliance with the state’s limited program.
Regulators said in a report last year that the department would “move forward with seeking an exception for cannabis as a schedule I substance in Iowa from the DEA, in attempt to minimize conflict between State and Federal Law.” But so far, it has declined to act beyond saying in February that it was “still evaluating the best way to proceed.”
Last year, DEA rejected a request for an exemption that was submitted by Olsen himself, but he’s hopeful that the result will be different if the state is formally involved.
DEA regulations stipulate that the agency’s administrator “may grant an exemption in his discretion, but in no case shall he/she be required to grant an exception to any person which is otherwise required by law or the regulations.”
Olsen is now asking the court to order the governor to fulfill her role in ensuring that a request for a federal exemption is submitted. Failing to do so is “contrary to the public interest,” the suit says, because receiving a guarantee would help mitigate “the serious threat to public safety created by enacting the state medical cannabidiol program without making an effort to obtain an exemption from federal drug law.”
He told Marijuana Moment that his legal filing “is an attempt to get the state to explain why it is allowing people to suffer any longer without relieve from federal drug laws.” Despite its obligations, “the state has suddenly gone silent about when it intends to file for the application,” he said.
On a related note, the Hawaii House of Representatives last week adopted a resolution seeking an exemption from DEA stipulating that the state is permitted to run its medical cannabis program without federal interference.
Meanwhile in Iowa, state legislators have been looking into ways to improve upon the existing medical marijuana law, with one bill to reduce patient and provider fees moving through a subcommittee in February, for example.
Another piece of legislation to reduce penalties for certain cannabis-related offenses also cleared a subcommittee and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
Outside of medical marijuana, a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state. A House committee held a hearing on the proposal in March, but they did not advance it.
Read Olsen’s lawsuit about the federal exemption for Iowa’s medical marijuana program below:
Iowa medical cannabis lawsuit by Marijuana Moment
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