Republicans weigh risk, reward of medical marijuana - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Republicans weigh risk, reward of medical marijuana

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Iowa gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad is just one of a handful of candidates speaking out about a the controversial decision by Iowa's Board of Pharmacy to recommend legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

Wednesday, the board unanimously voted to recommend that Iowa lawmakers change the way marijuana is classified.

Thursday, Branstad told NewsChannel Four he thinks the Legislature needs to be very careful in their handling of this issue.

He says, there are other prescription drugs that can be used to treat diseases.

"There's a lot of problems with illegal drugs and my concern is if you start down a slippery slope of legalizing it for some purposes then it gets used for other illicit purposes," said Branstad.

Advocates here in Northwest Iowa are celebrating the decision.

Paul Peterson of Storm Lake says its a bold step.

He says marijuana is been classified as both a "schedule one" and "schedule two" drug in Iowa, which Peterson says is "inconsistent."

He says the ruling -- that the drug should be classified solely as a "schedule two" drug indicating a potential benefit -- is a step in the right direction.

"Basically their step is to try to encourage some class 2 legislation, so that doctors can authorize this for their patients for certain conditions," said Peterson.

Peterson says he has ADHD and that marijuana helps him relax enough to sleep at night.

Western Iowa Congressman Steve King says he's seen what happens when state's legalize marijuana and it's not something he supports.

"I've seen the experimentation that goes on with the legalization of marijuana in California. Entire cities that are dedicated to growing marijuana and smoking marijuana. It doesn't appear to me to be a medicinal focus for much of that," said Congressman King, (R) Iowa.

Medical marijuana is already legal in 14 other states, including California.

But, Pharmacy Board Members seem to agree that none of those states have the policies quite right.

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