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New Legislation Brings Improvements to Iowa's Medical Cannabis Program

Medical Cannibas Improvements in Iowa

July 27, 2020

My name is Zach Baker. I’m a patient in Iowa’s medical cannabis program. I’m also an associate chemist with MedPharm Iowa, Iowa’s first medical cannabis manufacturer. Governor Reynolds recently signed a bill that changed my life significantly, from both a workplace and patient perspective. Here’s what’s new with medical cannabis in Iowa:

  • The 3% THC formulation cap was removed. (You can read more about this cap in a Des Moines Register article found here).
  • PTSD was added as a qualifying condition.
  • Chronic pain was added as an approved condition.
  • ARNPs, APRNs, PAs and Podiatrists can now certify patients.
  • The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) was removed from the application process.

I graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in chemistry. Now I monitor crop growth, oversee plant harvesting and perfect our extraction and formulation process. It’s an incredible opportunity to work with cannabis, and I’m fortunate to do it in my home state of Iowa.

As a MedPharm employee, the biggest change for me will be the removal of the 3% THC formulation cap. THC is the pain-relieving ingredient in our products.

Decreasing Pain in MedPharm Patients

With the updated law, there is no limit to the amount of THC that we can have in our products. This allows us to make smaller capsules with increased THC concentration, and with vape, it will finally allow us to make high-percentage THC cartridges that will vaporize cleanly. Patients will finally be able to purchase the improved medicine formulations they’ve been looking for since the program started.

I’ve actually been preparing these new products for the past few months in anticipation of the bill being signed. We plan to have them tested and ready for patients soon!

Personally, I know the patient perspective quite well. I’m certified in the Iowa program with “untreatable pain.” I’ve been a long-distance runner my entire life, even going so far as to train with the US Olympic team and completing a run across Africa. The wear and tear on my body has taken a toll over the years, and I’ve tried many treatments to relieve the pain.

I’ve been a card holder since the program started, and I’m very happy with a few of the recent changes. To maintain a medical card, I have to re-apply every year, which involves a few steps. First, I have to re-certify my condition with my physician. Luckily, this year — with the addition of ARNPs and other certifiers — I won’t have to schedule an appointment with my doctor. This should shorten my wait time and reduce any consult costs. Second, the removal of the DOT visit simplifies the process. Now I complete the process with the Iowa Department of Public Health and have the time to visit a dispensary the same day.

The new conditions “PTSD” and “Chronic Pain” are going to make this program accessible to a lot more people in Iowa. I’m looking forward to working on new products for MedPharm Iowa’s new patients this year. If people are curious about how to get a card or how Iowa’s medical cannabis program works, check out medpharmiowa.com/patients to learn more. You can also call or visit our dispensaries in Windsor Heights or Sioux City to speak with one of our patient specialists.

For dispensary locations throughout Iowa, visit medpharmiowa.com/dispensaries.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 17 percent below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Zach Baker

Zach Baker is an associate chemist for MedPharm Iowa, Iowa's first manufacturer and dispenser of medical cannabis.