Legislators have put in many hours this last week in an effort to end the session. I will have one more column after this one to summarize the work of the session, so I will explain a few of the bills that have received constituent interest this last week.
The bill that probably received the most media attention was SF 2360, the Medical Cannabidiol Act. This bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate with a vote of 32-16. It decriminalizes medical cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy. The passage of this bill was not easy as there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana, even though this bill is narrowly defined and applies to highly specific situations.
If it becomes law, adults would be allowed to possess and use, upon the recommendation and care of their doctor, non-intoxicating oil made from medical cannabis to treat seizures in their children, only after other treatments have failed. It will decriminalize medical cannabis oil because it is lifesaving, non-intoxicating and used under a doctor’s supervision. It would not be grown or distributed in Iowa, but Iowans could travel to states where medical cannabis oil is produced and bring it back to Iowa. Compared to other powerful and expensive medications, medical cannabis oil has proven to be effective at reducing seizures at a much lower cost and with far less dangerous side effects. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, this is life-changing legislation.
The Education Budget Bill passed through Conference Committee and through the Senate. SF 2347 maintains the promise of a tuition freeze at all of our state universities by funding U of I, ISU and UNI at 4 percent, plus an additional $2.625 million for UNI. Community College General Aid was increased by $8 million. In addition, $40.3 million will go to support worker-training investments that target specific skills shortage areas in our region and train workers for those jobs.