Iowa Democrats Propose Cannabis Constitutional Amendment

Democratic Iowa state senators have called for a constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds opposes the plan.

Full story after the jump.

Three Democratic Iowa state senators are proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis possession in the state for anyone 21-an-older, Radio Iowa reports. Sen. Joe Bolkcom is also calling for broad reforms for the state to regulate cannabis like alcohol, noting that in 2020, 4,300 Iowans were convicted of cannabis possession, which costs state taxpayers millions of dollars to cover the costs of their incarceration.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure. It’s ending across America because it’s caused far more harm than good. … A lot of Iowans will see some benefit from essentially eradicating those expenses from our tax bills.” Bolkcom, during an online news conference, via Radio Iowa

Sen. Janet Petersen cited a March 2020 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll which found, for the first time, a majority of Iowans 53% support cannabis legalization in the state.

“Iowans are tired of filling our prisons with nonviolent offenders, traumatizing families with separation, and taking away opportunities for too many young adults for something that is legal in nearly half the states in our country,” she said during her remarks.

The proposal is also supported by state Sen. Sarah Trone Garriot, who said that “the world is changing around us and Iowa is getting left behind.”

Cannabis legalization does not have the support from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds or Republican lawmakers who control the state Legislature. Reynolds last year vetoed a bill to expand the state’s very limited medical cannabis program.

State Sen. Brad Zaun, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he has “no intentions” of bringing the bill up for a vote, calling it a “gimmick” that does “a better job of illustrating the lack of ideas Senate Democrats have to solve the problems of Iowans than any response” he has.

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