Iowa Legislature adjourns session; House fails to advance sensible marijuana policy
Last update: June 10, 2015
The Iowa Legislature adjourned its 2015 session on June 5, leaving multiple marijuana policy reform bills on the table. However, the Senate voiced its support for both medical marijuana and reducing penalties for marijuana possession, giving potential medical patients and marijuana policy reform advocates hope that 2016 will bring necessary changes to the state’s laws.
The 2015 session saw the Iowa Senate vote 26-19 in support of a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana proposal! The bill would have built on the Medical Cannabidiol Act enacted in 2014. It sought to allow Iowans suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions — including HIV/AIDS, cancer, MS, and epilepsy — to use and safely access medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Unfortunately, despite popular support for the proposal, the House failed to debate the issue. If you are a Hawkeye, please email your lawmakers and ask them to support a compassionate medical marijuana program next year.
In addition to passing legislation to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution, the Iowa Senate approved legislation that would have reduced the penalties for possessing marijuana. The maximum sentence for possessing up to five grams of marijuana would have been reduced to 30 days in jail. This would have been a big 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. The House also failed to debate this bill, so it is important that all Iowans continue to email their lawmakers in support of reducing marijuana possession penalties.
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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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