Last Update: February 13, 2015
Iowa Legislature back in session in Des Moines
The 2014-2015 legislative session has begun in Des Monies, and marijuana policy is already being debated. After having studied the issue, the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to introduce legislation to reduce the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Senate File 219 would reduce the maximum jail sentence for possessing up to five grams from six months to 30 days.
Currently, an individual convicted of possession of even a single gram can be sent to jail for up to six months, incur a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If SF 219 were to be enacted, possessing five or less grams would still be a criminal misdemeanor, but offenders would face less jail time (up to 30 days) and a less costly fine (between $65 and $625) or both. While it would be far better to change the penalty for possession of marijuana to a civil fine, this bill could save marijuana consumers months in jail. If you live in Iowa, please email your senator and urge him or her to support reducing the penalty for marijuana possession.
In addition to lowering penalties for possession of marijuana, the Iowa Legislature has a lot of work to do to ensure that the seriously in their state are allowed to use medical marijuana if a doctor thinks it is the best treatment option. Last year, the Iowa Legislature passed the “Medical Cannabidiol Act.” However, this law has many flaws, including leaving the vast majority of medical marijuana patients without legal protections for using and possessing the medicine their doctors think is best for them. If you’re a resident of Iowa, please email your lawmakers today, thanking them for taking this small first step and encouraging them to support a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill this year.
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.
Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Iowa, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.