Iowa’s medicinal cannabis program continues to grow with $10 million in sales

The Iowa Cannabidiol Board reports that by the end of December 2022, the state had raised $10.2 million in sales across five dispensaries. In August alone, the state broke the $1 million mark for the first time in a single month and maintained the pattern for the rest of the year. For comparison, December 2021 sales reached $587,000.

According to the Des Moines Register, the number of patients has also increased significantly. In December 2021, the number of cardholders in Iowa reached 7,800, but by November 2022, the number of cardholders reached 15,000. Currently, the state lists 51.1% of patients as male, 48.5% as female, and 0.4% as non-binary.

Currently, most medical cannabis patients in Iowa live in Polk County, which is also the state capital with 5,112 patients, followed by Linn County (833 patients), Black Hawk County (670), Woodbury County (645) and Johnson County (612 ).

The number of nurses in the state, or people helping patients who are “too ill, immobilized or otherwise unable to attend a pharmacy,” has also increased. Care cards also increased, with 2,300 registered caregivers in December 2021 and 3,000 in November 2022.

The top medical condition for which patients have registered includes chronic pain with an estimated 10,000 people, followed by post-traumatic dress disorder with approximately 2,800 cardholders. Since the start of the state’s medical cannabis program in November 2018, more than 32,000 medical cannabis cards have been issued.

The Des Moines Register also reports that as of November 2022, 1,920 healthcare professionals (defined as either a physician, physician assistant, post nurse practitioner, or podiatrist) have “opted out” of at least one patient using cannabis to treat their condition (compared to just 300 physicians in healthcare in December 2021).

For purchased products, “vaporable” products are the most popular at 66.4%, followed by capsules/tablets (24.6%), tinctures (6.4%) and topical products (2.5%). About 77.9% of patients choose high-THC products, 13.2% prefer a balance of THC to CBD, and 8.9% choose high-CBD products.

A large majority of patients suffering from diseases such as AIDS/HIV, ALS, Crohn’s disease, seizure disorders and ulcerative colitis chose products high in THC. The only exception is an even split for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease (37% prefer THC/CBD products and 38% prefer products high in THC).

While medicinal cannabis is thriving in Iowa, efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis have yielded no results. Early last year, proponents of the Iowan Campaign for Sensible Cannabis Laws launched an attempt to legalize cannabis. “Cannabis reform is sweeping the country. From ruby-red South Dakota and Montana to perpetually blue New York and New Jersey, majorities across the political spectrum are voting for reform. In some states, it’s a stronger medical program,” said campaign founder Bradley Knott. “In other states, voters have opted for both medical and recreational cannabis. In Iowa, we don’t have a choice. We don’t even have a vote.”

In September 2022, Rick Stewart, candidate for Iowa’s Libertarian governor, challenged fellow Republican nominee Kim Reynolds (who later won for governor in November) over her opposition to legal cannabis. “What the heck, Kim?” Stewart said in a video. “Here I am in Illinois — well, just a few miles from the Iowa border — and they have legal cannabis.”

He described the stark difference in laws between the two states while standing in front of a bridge connecting Iowa to Illinois. “If I buy weed this side of the bridge, I’m buying it from a crook. When I buy weed this side of the bridge, I’m buying it from a reputable businessman,” Stewart said.

Iowa’s southern neighbor in Missouri recently had an adult cannabis program, which also went live in December 2022.

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