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.