Marijuana Bills Heading For Des Moines (Again)

After voters in Colorado and Washington state approved laws that legalized possession of regulated recreational marijuana, two Iowa lawmakers hope to introduce more modest marijuana-related bills here in the Hawkeye State. Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) and state Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) are preparing to introduce bills which would allow medical marijuana with a prescription.

In 2010 the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously that legislators should allow prescription use of marijuana.  A Des Moines Register Iowa poll at that time showed that 64% of Iowans supported allowing patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s approval.

Hunter and Bolkom’s bills will face an uphill battle in the 2013 session. House Republicans say they do not support the effort and Governor Branstad says he will veto any bill that would legalize marijuana in any form.

Perhaps opponents of allowing marijuana in any form are being influenced by the likes of Peter Komen­dowski, pres­i­dent of Part­ner­ship for a Drug-Free Iowa, and Steven Lukan, the direc­tor of the Governor’s Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy. “What we’re doing,” said Komen­dowski, “is send­ing a mixed mes­sage to our kids that some drugs are OK and some aren’t OK. If you know kids, it’s extremely con­fus­ing to them if you’re not on message.”

Lukan spoke referring to supposedly higher levels of THC in marijuana. “A good analogy I was given is that back in the ’60s, smoking a joint was like drinking three beers. You achieved a quick high that didn’t stick around as long,” Lukan said. “Today smoking a joint can be like drinking a keg.”

Long-time Iowa marijuana law reformer Carl Olsen takes both men to task on his blog:

“So, the mes­sage we’re cur­rently send­ing, accord­ing to these two, is that alco­hol is okay and mar­i­juana is not. Pre­scrip­tion drugs are okay and mar­i­juana is not. That mes­sage is exactly the oppo­site of what it should be. These intel­lec­tu­ally bank­rupt rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the legal drug indus­try haven’t made a step toward mak­ing alchohol and tobacco ille­gal in Iowa, or deny­ing access to pre­scrip­tion drugs. Alco­hol and tobacco, along with pre­scrip­tion drugs, are the biggest killers out there. Mar­i­juana has never killed anyone.

“So, the mes­sage, kids, is that you should drink lots of alco­hol and smoke lots of cig­a­rettes so you can get sick and use lots of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Got it? Good, now shut up and do what you’re told.”

Let’s hope that the forward momentum of the two states that just legalized recreational marijuana, as well as the 18 states that have already approved the use of marijuana with a doctor’s prescription, will allow Iowa to take the common sense step of at least allowing medical marijuana to ease the pain and nausea of select patients in our state.


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