Iowa Governor signs bill expanding THC allowance for medical cannabis patients

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Patients who are qualified to receive medical cannabis in Iowa are now able to purchase medicine that contains 4.5 grams of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) within a 90-day period. This is a 1.5 gram increase from the three percent cap that was previously imposed on THC-containing medical cannabis products in Iowa; prior to Governor Kim Reynolds signing a new piece of legislation into effect.

Iowa, which has one of the most highly regulated legal medical cannabis markets in the United States, could reap the financial rewards of increasing the THC cap on prescribed cannabis products. In 2019, a similar measure was vetoed by Gov. Reynolds. That provision would have further expanded the THC cap on medical cannabis products in Iowa — 25 grams every 90 days. 

Notwithstanding the fact that terminally ill patients will be able to purchase more than the 4.5-gram limit as per the updated rules – not to mention the fact that a licensed doctor would be allowed to recommend a higher limit for specifically serious medical conditions – concerns have arisen.

MedPharm is Iowa’s first major cannabis operator

At the current time, MedPharm is the largest provider of medical cannabis in Iowa. Reports released by the Des Moines Register have touched upon the fact that the updated THC cap on prescribed medical cannabis in Iowa may not satisfy some patients who require a higher regular dosage of the psychotropic cannabinoid.

The company utilizes a centralized software solution – 365 Cannabis – that company officials believe will aid Iowa cannabis operators in adapting to THC cap changes without fuss or delay. The company’s cannabis ERP software vendor is the only one that has been approved for use in Iowa’s market.

Having a centralized software solution that houses all our business-critical information has been essential to our success. Aside from functionality, we have an incredible relationship with the 365 Cannabis team. Overall, it’s been a game changer,” explained Operations Coordinator at MedPharm Iowa, Kevin O’Connor. His company has been on the receiving end of two dispensary licenses in Iowa, in addition to a license that enables it to both cultivate and manufacture products for the state’s medical cannabis market.

“This was a project that required extensive communication and collaboration. Beyond meeting compliance requirements, operators can have confidence in the functionality of the system and the level of experience and expertise of the 365 Cannabis team,” affirms the Project Manager for the Iowa Department of Public Health, Doug Cretsinger. The Department has been integrating this seed-to-sale software for over one year.

Iowa’s medical cannabis market could face cultivation/manufacturing supply hurdles

Based on recent estimates released by the new Marijuana Business Factbook at the virtual MJBizConNEXT Direct event, medical cannabis sales in Iowa will soar to $7 million-$9 million this year; indicating a potential increase from the $4 million-$5 million recorded in 2019.

Consistent growth means that providers ought to be prepared for a surge in demand. However, since New York-based cannabis multistate operator Acreage Holdings just backed out of serving the patient demographic – citing lack of growth potential as the reason why – MedPharm is the only remaining licensed cultivator/manufacturer.

In an attempt to resolve supply constraints before it becomes a problem, regulators are currently in the process of finding another supplier of medical cannabis in Iowa.