Patients Line Up for Dispensary Openings in Iowa

Published on December 3, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Medical marijuana patients lined up outside Iowa’s first dispensaries on Saturday morning, eager to finally access the medicine legally in the Hawkeye State.

Dispensaries opened in Council Bluffs, Davenport, Sioux City, Windsor Heights, and Waterloo. MedPharm is manufacturing all of the state’s legal cannabis products, which include capsules, tinctures, and creams. No cannabis flower, concentrates, or edibles are legally available.

“The reaction we’ve gotten from the community about the opening has been amazing,” Lucas Nelson, general manager of the MedPharm dispensary in Des Moines, told the Des Moines Register. “People have been stopping by and asking when we’re opening, how they can get involved and what will be available here.”

More than a dozen patients lined up outside MedPharm prior to the store’s 8 a.m. opening Saturday, the Register reported.

Calming Seizures With CBD

Iowa Public Radio reporter Katie Peikes spoke with William Rose, the father of a 13-year-old son with epilepsy. Rose was among the first caregivers to visit MedPharm on Saturday. For the past two years he’s had to travel to Colorado to obtain the cannabidiol (CBD) drops that calm his son’s seizures:

“It stopped them. Entirely. As far as we know. And he’s off that seizure medicine. They helped control his seizures but it was not good for his body,” William Rose said.

He said it’s even helped Christian’s autism and ADHD.

“He can’t get high from it,” William said “Once he takes it, he doesn’t feel any different. He calms down. A lot of people think you get the munchies, but he has no effects like that.”

Find a Licensed Dispensary Near You

1,500 Patients So Far

In total, nearly 1,500 patients and caregivers have obtained state cards that allow them to purchase products in Iowa’s five licensed dispensaries.

Patients may qualify for Iowa’s MMJ program if they experience one or more of these conditions:

  • Cancer (with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting)
  • Multiple sclerosis with severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • AIDS or HIV (as defined in Iowa Code Section 141A.1);
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Any terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of under one year (if the illness or its treatment produces one or more of the following: severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting; cachexia or severe wasting)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Untreatable pain

The 2017 Medical Cannabidiol Act allows the use of cannabidiol that has no more than 3% THC, the compound in marijuana that causes a high.

Des Moines’ ABC affiliate Local 5 caught the action on Saturday morning at MedPharm:

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Bruce Barcott
Bruce Barcott
Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.
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