Senate Democrats in Iowa attempted, unsuccessfully, to tack on an adult-use cannabis amendment to a bill concerning heroin penalties, Iowa Starting Line reports. The proposal was struck down without a hearing because it wasn’t related to the bill being debated.
The proposal, which would have amended the state constitution but eventually leave the final decision to voters, was introduced by Sen. Joe Bolkcom, who described Gov. Kim Reynolds’ (R) and Senate Republicans’ failure to even debate the issue or explain why they oppose the reforms as “insulting.” He also emphasized that cannabis prohibition disproportionately impacts Black Iowans and their families.
“You should tell Iowans why you don’t trust them to have legal access to marijuana like tens of millions of other Americans.” – Bolkcom, during the debate, via Starting Line
State Sen. Jackie Smith (D) said that the state would see $60 million to $100 million annually were the state to legalize cannabis for adults.
“Nineteen states now regulate marijuana like recreational alcohol. We’re surrounded by them,” she said during the debate. “And it was the voters in South Dakota that spoke during the 2020 elections to approve of marijuana use for adults. So I think giving voters a voice on this is what they want.”
A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll from March 2021 found 54% of Iowa adults support the reforms, with 39% opposed and 6% unsure. The numbers are similar to a March 2020 poll, which found 53% support for broad legalization in the state, with 41% opposed.
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