Bill would double number of Iowa medical marijuana dispensaries

DES MOINES — Lawmakers on a Senate subcommittee have agreed to advance a bill that would double the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in Iowa, but they’re expressing reservations about the plan.

About 18,000 Iowans are currently registered to buy cannabidiol or C-B-D products from the five state licensed businesses. Senator Mike Bousselot of Ankeny said a proliferation of products that produce a high are being sold elsewhere.

“I think we ought to take a broader look at the program in light sort of all of the different facets of weed and hemp and THC and lack of action at the federal level,” Bousselot said.

Senator Janet Weiner of Iowa City said Iowa’s medical marijuana program is really little — for a reason.

“We’re just dancing around the issue of the fact that neighboring states have recreational marijuana and we’re losing out on a lot of revenue,” Weiner says.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri. The five medical marijuana dispensaries licensed by the State of Iowa are in Coralville, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Waterloo and Windsor Heights. The Iowa Cannabis Company operates three of those and a lobbyist for the company raised concerns about a section in the bill that says if the number of dispensaries expands to 10, one company could only operate three. Tim Coonan, a lobbyist for Green Leaf Cannabis Company — a firm that backs the bill because it wants to apply for a license — responded during the subcommittee hearing this morning.

“That restriction makes it more competitive,” Coonan said, “rather than have the market completely dominated and monopolized by a certain few entities.”

MedPharm Iowa has the license for the state’s other two dispensaries.