Beall, Behn split on medical cannabis

The two state senators who represent Webster County differed over a measure that would allow a form of marijuana to be used to treat the most difficult cases of epilepsy.

State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, voted on Thursday to approve the medical cannabis measure.

“Because of the kids the medical cannabis oil will help, reducing the dozens of seizures suffered daily, and the narrowly drawn language, I supported the bill which had bipartisan support,” he said.

“Parents of children suffering from multiple seizures every day convinced me that this was good public policy,” Beall said.

State Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone, voted against the bill. He said it was “perhaps the most difficult vote I have had to take.”

“If my child had an issue that regular drugs could not cure, I am sure I would not want my own government blocking my path to a perceived cure or relief,” Behn said.

But he said cannabis has not been subjected to the rigorous testing that’s used to determine the usefulness and safety of all other medicines.

“What the Senate did was say that we know better and are going to allow legislators to decide a product is good enough to try even though it is a federally illegal product,” he said.

The Senate passed the medical cannabis bill Thursday on a 36-12 vote. It now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

It allows the medical use of oil derived from the marijuana plant as a last-resort treatment for seizures caused by a chronic form of epilepsy.

The oil cannot be smoked and doesn’t create a high in the user, according to cannabis advocates.