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Medical marijuana bill moves forward in Senate

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An Iowa bill expanding medical marijuana uses and its availability passed a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.  This moves one step closer to full consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Senate Study Bill 1243, introduced by Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, passed a Ways and Means subcommittee vote along party lines on Wednesday. All three Democrats — Bolkcom, Sen. Bill Dotzler of Waterloo, and Sen. Matt McCoy of Des Moines — signed on to support the legislation.

RELATED: Medical marijuana bill introduced in Iowa

If passed, the bill would expand the range of medical conditions and/or diseases that would qualify for medical cannabis. It would also expand the types of medical cannabis doctors would be able to prescribe.

The bill would also legalize accessibility to and distribution of the legal cannabis oil, cannabidiol.

Both Republicans Sen. Randy Feenstra of Hull, and Sen. Jerry Behn of Boone, declined to support the bill. Neither senator responded to calls from The Daily Iowan.

Bolkcom, who also chairs the Ways and Means Committee, said he expects the legislation to move to the entire committee sometime in the next couple of weeks. He would like it to pass with bipartisan support.

In the capitol, Bolkcom is known for his work on marijuana-related legislation — usually proposing a bill a year. The five-term senator played a major role in the passage of limited cannabidiol last session. But the victory was short lived due to difficulties in legally obtaining the oil.