Iowa State Daily
Friday, March 21, 1997, Page 1

Medical marijuana also surging

Daily Staff Writer

        Amid the political controversy surrounding medicinal marijuana legalization in California and Arizona, the Iowa House is reviewing a bill calling for research of the medical merits of the plant.
        State Representative Ed Fallon introduced the bill, calling for research at the University of lowa.  Now six Republicans and seven Democrats in the Iowa Senate say they support changes in law to prevent the arrest and prosecution of medicinal marijuana users.  Ten Republicans and nine Democrats in the Iowa House support changes.
        Carl Olsen, of Iowa's NORML chapter, is working on behalf of Iowans for Medical Marijuana to reclassify marijuana as a drug to permit its medical use.
        "The main reason it should be legalized is because it's cruel and inhuman to put people in prison and jail for trying to relieve their pain," Olsen said.
        Olsen said the issue is not whether marijuana has medicinal use - he concedes it needs more research - but that sick people are being denied relief.  Numerous medical and scientific associations, journals, researchers and practitioners have said marijuana has at least some medical validity.
        It has been found to reduce seizures of epileptic patients, nerve disorders of multiple sclerosis, nausea of cancer patients, eye pressure of glaucoma patients and can also thwart the waste syndrome of AIDS patients.
        For the past 10 years in Iowa, THC, the psychoactive medicinal component of the marijuana plant, has been available in a pill form cailed Marinol.  However, patients complain it is too strong and too expensive - nearly $5 per pill.  They say they cannot control the dosage.
        Researchers believe marijuana may have about 40 chemical components of therapeutic value.  Unlike THC, many of these chemicals are reported to have no psychoactive effects.
        Among other medical uses, a recent study in Florida showed that THC placed in a test tube with a herpes virus killed the virus.