Walking the halls of the Iowa state capitol building and giving presentations to elected officials, lobbyists, and members of the public is part of what Shelly Van Winkle does these days.  Van Winkle is an Army veteran of the first Gulf War, a mother, and a Registered Nurse.  In addition to the traditional RN degree, Van Winkle is the first and only registered Cannabis Nurse in the state of Iowa.  Van Winkle received the accreditation from the American Cannabis Nurse’s Association in 2015 and currently serves as the ACNA Meet-up Director for Iowa and Illinois. In addition to her certifications, Van Winkle is a Co-Founder and Director of the Iowa Hemp Association.


Van Winkle has spoken to local elected officials, multiple presidential candidates, and even appeared on HuffPost Live after calling out then presidential candidate Carly Fiorina for quoting out-of-date medical studies at a campaign stop in Davenport last fall.

Recently, Van Winkle was back in Des Moines presenting to Iowa Legislatures about the need for an inclusive Whole Plant Medicine Bill.  According to Van Winkle, “CBD (cannabidiol) oil only bills that exclude medical conditions that science and research have proven to benefit sick and dying human beings are nothing but cruel political stunts.”

According to Van Winkle, the current law is ineffective in its coverage and support of patients in Iowa.  Under the current bill, certain patients may possess CBD oil. However, it is not legal to sell the oils in the state.  It is also a felony to purchase the oils outside of the state and transport them across state lines.


These are some of the issues that Van Winkle is hoping to be able to educate Iowa law makers on the feasibility of with regard to the current law, as well as the improvements to pending legislation to make medical cannabis available to patients. “Politicians with no knowledge or training or education should ask for help and guidance before making laws that cause harm and exclude entire patient populations, while ignoring evidence based practice, medicine and established science worldwide,” Van Winkle says.

While the medical marijuana debate is taking place in Des Moines, Van Winkle says the effects are felt much closer to home, “We have epilepsy, cancer, MS, Ehlers Danlos, Autism, PTSD, ALS diagnosed patients in our county who would benefit.”

For more information on the current legislation that is pending in committee, contact the Muscatine area legislators: Senator Chris Brase, [email protected]iowa.gov; Representative Gary Carlson, [email protected]iowa.gov; and Representative Tom Sands, [email protected]iowa.gov.  For more information on the Iowa Hemp Association, visit IHA- Iowa Hemp Association on Facebook, and for information on ACNA or to contact Van Winkle directly, email [email protected]