Government officials should be embarrassed about the scene we photographed in a Dubuque parking lot last week.

We took photos after Jennifer McFadden retrieved her 12-year-old son Liam from Hills & Dales, an accredited facility for mentally and physically disabled children and young adults, so she could give him a dose of cannabis oil, which she hopes will control the boy’s epilepsy.

Liam receives the cannabis oil, which is extracted from marijuana, in a parking lot off the Hills & Dales campus. His mother has state government’s authorization to possess and administer cannabis oil. But since the federal government still takes a hard line regarding marijuana, and since Hills & Dales can’t afford to lose federal funding (or to face federal prosecution), the agency’s officials ask that Liam receive the medication off-campus.

So, because the State of Iowa and federal government aren’t on the same page regarding cannabis oil for medical purposes, a Dubuque mother and her son have to go through this rigmarole every day, twice a day, rain or shine, summer or winter. That inconvenience is magnified when one considers that these trips to the parking lot are confusing for Liam, who has the cognition level of an 18-month-old.

Jennifer McFadden acknowledges that she could be prosecuted if federal authorities pressed the issue, but she considers it a necessary risk to see if the oil will help her son. Good for her.

This sad situation underscores the disconnect between the Iowa and federal governments regarding legitimate medicinal uses of marijuana and extracts. We are not calling for relaxation of the law to the point that the remedy for any person’s made-up malady is smoking a joint or partaking in pot-infused brownies. Cannabis oil has little or none of the chemical properties associated with the “high” of marijuana. This is about better health, not getting high.

Regulate and monitor, yes, but the feds should be more open to allowing people like the McFaddens to try to improve their children’s lives. End the parking-lot ritual for the McFaddens and other families. Federal and state laws should regulate but not prohibit cannabis oil for medicinal purposes.

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