DES MOINES, Iowa (CNS) — Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines urged state lawmakers to pass legislation that would legalize medical marijuana.
In a letter April 26 to House and Senate members, Bishop Pates said a comprehensive bill was needed to “give Iowans the ability to produce a safe and consistent treatment as well as provide a legal avenue for physicians to recommend it to those who are in need.”
It is legal in Iowa for people who suffer from epilepsy to use cannabis oil under a 2014 law approved by legislators. No other illnesses are covered by the law.
However, Iowans with epilepsy cannot legally obtain the medical cannabis in the state because legislators have not approved allowing for its production and distribution. Patients also cannot bring medical cannabis from other states without breaking federal laws.
Bishop Pates reached his decision after visiting several people suffering from chronic, painful conditions who would benefit significantly from medical cannabis and having been contacted by several Iowa legislators. In the letter, he wrote that making the drug available for those who need it for medicinal purposes is a humanitarian issue, particularly during this Jubilee Year of Mercy initiated by Pope Francis.
“As the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, I join the 78 percent of Iowans who believe that medical cannabis should be legally produced, distributed and possessed in Iowa for humanitarian purposes to provide relief for those who are sick and suffering,” he wrote.
A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll showed 78 percent of adults in Iowa approve of the use of medical marijuana.
“I support this extension of palliative care among this sector of hurting people,” Bishop Pates said.
The legislative proposals have failed so far and legislators have engaged in intense debates on the issue as the final days of the 2016 session wind down. One proposal would have expanded the number of illnesses for which cannabis could have been used. Another would have allowed the state to grow cannabis and produce an oil for medicinal purposes.
“I believe now is the time to help suffering Iowans and their families get legal access to this medicine,” the bishop concluded in his letter.
Twenty-four states allow cannabis oil for medicinal purposes.
Cox is editor of The Catholic Mirror, newspaper of the Des Moines Diocese.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103