Last Update: April 16, 2015
Iowa Senate approves medical marijuana, lower possession penalties
On April 15, the Iowa Senate voted 26-19 in support of a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana proposal! The bill now crosses over to the House of Representatives for debate. If you are a resident of the Hawkeye State, please email your representative now and urge her or him to help sick and suffering Iowans by supporting SF 484.
The program approved by the Senate builds on the Medical Cannabidiol Act enacted last session. SF 484 would allow Iowans who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions — including, but not limited to, HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS, and epilepsy — to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. The bill also requires the state to register in-state businesses to produce and distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients with no legislatively prescribed cap on how much THC a patient’s medicine can contain.
In addition to passing legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution, the Iowa Senate earlier this session approved legislation that reduces the penalties for anyone found in possession of marijuana. SF 219 would reduce the maximum sentence for possessing up to five grams from up to six months in jail to up to thirty days. Although this bill keeps marijuana possession of any amount a criminal offense, it is an improvement upon the status quo, which calls for up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both for possessing even a single gram of marijuana. Iowans across the state are encouraged to email their state representative in support of this legislation as well.
Make sure to sign up for MPP’s free state specific alerts to stay up-to-date on the progress of these bills.
2010 Board of Pharmacy Ruling
In 2009-2010, MPP worked with Carl Olsen and Iowa Patients to lobby the Board of Pharmacy. Thank you to all who participated! You can watch the testimony here. On February 17, 2010, the Board of Pharmacy voted 6-0 to recognize marijuana’s medical value and to recommend that the legislature reschedule marijuana to only Schedule II. The public also supports medical marijuana. A February 2010 Seltzer & Co. Iowa poll found that 64% of Iowans support patient use of medical marijuana with a doctor's approval!
Are you a patient?
If you are supportive and are a medical professional, a seriously ill patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit ZIP code.
Learn more about Iowa’s marijuana laws
Iowa has harsh marijuana laws and arrested more than 6,600 people for marijuana offenses in 2010. First-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, one of the most severe first offense penalties in the country. Unfortunately, these draconian penalties hit minority and low-income communities the hardest. According to the ACLU, blacks in Iowa are almost eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana prohibition than whites. Please ask your legislators to end marijuana prohibition now!
You can learn more about Iowa’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by economist Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
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