Board of Pharmacy responds to Petition for Religious Exemption

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Iowa Board of Pharmacy
ANDREW FUNK, PHARM.D.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

July 16, 2018

Carl Olsen
PO Box 41381
Des Moines, IA 50311

Sent via email only to: Carl Olsen and Colin Murphy

RE: Petition for Scheduling Recommendation

Mr. Olsen,

On July 5, 2018, you submitted a Petition for Scheduling Recommendation to the Board, which asked the Board to make a recommendation to the Iowa general assembly to exempt bona fide religious use of cannabis by Rastafari from Iowa Code chapter 124.  On July 6, 2018, you indicated that attorney Colin Murphy was representing you regarding this Petition.  The Board has not received any documentation from Mr. Murphy.  The Iowa Administrative Procedure Act (Iowa Code chapter 17A) does not establish a right or a procedure for an individual to petition for agency action of this nature.

Specifically, your Petition asks the Board to recommend the following new section be added after Iowa Code section 124.204(8): “Nothing in this chapter shall apply to the bona fide religious use of cannabis by Rastafari; however, persons supplying the product to the church shall register, maintain appropriate records of receipts and disbursements of cannabis, and otherwise comply with all applicable requirements of this chapter and rules adopted pursuant thereto.”

Iowa Code section 124.204(8) states: “Peyote.  Nothing in this chapter shall apply to peyote when used in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church; however, persons supplying the product to the church shall register, maintain appropriate records of receipts and disbursements of peyote, and otherwise comply with all applicable requirements of this chapter and rules adopted pursuant thereto.”  This language is nearly identical to the language in DEA regulations that also contain this exemption.  See 21 C.F.R. § 1307.31.

Iowa Code section 124.201(1) states:

The board shall administer the regulatory provisions of this chapter.  Annually, within thirty days after the convening of each regular session of the general assembly, the board shall recommend to the general assembly any deletions from, or revisions in the schedules of substances, enumerated in section 124.204, 124.206, 124.208, 124.210, or 124.212, which it deems necessary or advisable.  In making a recommendation to the general assembly regarding a substance, the board shall consider the following:

  1. The actual or relative potential for abuse;
  2. The scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known;
  3. State of current scientific knowledge regarding the substance;
  4. The history and current pattern of abuse;
  5. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse;
  6. The risk to the public health;
  7. The potential of the substance to produce psychic or physiological dependence liability; and
  8. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter.

As the factors demonstrate, any recommendations made by the Board would be based on scientific and medical evidence, and not based on religious practices.  The Board does not have any expertise in analyzing the use of controlled substances for religious purposes.  Therefore, it would be inappropriate for the Board to make any scheduling recommendations that are specific to any religion.  In addition, there is no exemption in DEA regulations for religious use of cannabis by Rastafari.  Ultimately, any change to Iowa Code section 124.204 must be made by the legislature.  The Iowa legislature is the appropriate body to lobby for the change to Iowa Code section 124.204 that you are seeking.  The board declines to take any action in response to your Petition.

Sincerely,

Andrew Funk, Pharm.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Board of Pharmacy

400 S.W. EIGHTH STREET, SUITE E • DES MOINES, IA 50309-4688 • PHONE: 515-281-5944
https://pharmacy.iowa.gov • FAX: 515-281-4609

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