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Three Democrats Propose Path to Legalizing Marijuana in Iowa

(Radio Iowa) Three Democrats in the Iowa Senate are proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana possession in Iowa for anyone who’s 21 or older. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says it’s time to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure,” Bolkcom says. “It’s ending across America because it’s caused far more harm than good,” Bolkcom says. “…Basically begin to treat marijuana like we treat a six-pack of beer.” Bolkcom cites statistics indicating more than 43-hundred Iowans were convicted of marijuana possession in 2020 — and he says taxpayers paid millions to cover the costs of their prison time.

“A lot of Iowans will see some benefit from essentially eradicating those expenses from our tax bills,” Bolkcom says. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says polls show a majority of Iowans support legalizing marijuana rather than continuing to pursue criminal charges against those who smoke or possess it.

“Iowans are tired of filling our prisons with nonviolent offenders, traumatizing families with separation and taking away opportunities for too many young adults for something that is legal is nearly half the states in our country.” Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, a Democrat from West Des Moines, says 19 states now let residents use marijuana for a wide range of medical conditions or for recreational use.

“The world is changing around us and Iowa is getting left behind,” Trone-Garriott says. The three Democrats say Governor Kim Reynolds and Republicans who control a majority of seats in the legislature have resisted expansion of Iowa’s very limited medical marijuana program. Bolkcom says under current law, the cannabis products available today in Iowa have T-H-C levels that make them ineffective as medicine.

“It’s time for Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans to allow voters the freedom to decide,” Bolkcom says. “It’s time to hear their voices and bring marijuana reform to Iowa.” It takes years to amend the Iowa Constitution and this proposal faces a tough road ahead in a Republican-led legislature. The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he has no intentions of bringing the proposal up for a vote. Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale says proposing recreational marijuana in Iowa is a gimmick and it shows Senate Democrats lack ideas to solve the problems Iowans face.

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