Scholars do not understand federalism

On Fri­day, a panel at the Brook­ings Insti­tute took on the issue of inter­na­tional drug law.


As you could have eas­ily pre­dicted, the analy­sis was shal­low. Why would we even be talk­ing about this if any­one under­stood it? What the pan­elists did do well was to explain the role and the his­tory of the United States gov­ern­ment in draft­ing the treaties. The United States played a major role in draft­ing the treaties and con­tin­ues to play a major role in enforc­ing them.

What was glar­ingly absent in the dis­cus­sion was the imple­men­ta­tion of these treaties in the United States and the pro­tec­tion in these treaties for national sov­er­eignty. Not one pan­elist men­tioned the lan­guage that is repeated con­sis­tently in every one of these treaties: Sin­gle Con­ven­tion on Nar­cotic Drugs, 1961, Arti­cle 36: “con­sti­tu­tional lim­i­ta­tions”; Con­ven­tion on Psy­chotropic Sub­stances, 1971, Arti­cle 22: “con­sti­tu­tional lim­i­ta­tions”; Con­ven­tion against Illicit Traf­fic, 1988: “Sub­ject to its con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples and the basic con­cepts of its legal sys­tem”. Appar­ently, none of the pan­elists finds this lan­guage sig­nif­i­cant or relevant.

Here is what wikipedia has to say:

Because the states were pre­ex­ist­ing polit­i­cal enti­ties, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion did not need to define or explain fed­er­al­ism in any one sec­tion but it often men­tions the rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties of state gov­ern­ments and state offi­cials in rela­tion to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has cer­tain express pow­ers (also called enu­mer­ated pow­ers) which are pow­ers spelled out in the Con­sti­tu­tion, includ­ing the right to levy taxes, declare war, and reg­u­late inter­state and for­eign com­merce. In addi­tion, the Nec­es­sary and Proper Clause gives the fed­eral gov­ern­ment the implied power to pass any law “nec­es­sary and proper” for the exe­cu­tion of its express pow­ers. Other powers—the reserved powers—are reserved to the peo­ple or the states.

One of the pan­elists did briefly explain sov­er­eignty:

West­phalian sov­er­eignty is the con­cept that all nation-states have sov­er­eignty over their ter­ri­tory, with no role for exter­nal agents in domes­tic structures.

What was miss­ing from the panel’s dis­cus­sion was the imple­men­ta­tion of the treaties in the United States. Inter­na­tional resched­ul­ing was men­tioned, and right­fully so. Mar­i­juana is sched­uled more severely than mor­phine, cocaine, or metham­phet­a­mine under the inter­na­tional treaties.

But, the fail­ure of the panel to talk about state and fed­eral sched­ul­ing was trou­bling. You don’t nego­ti­ate a treaty with­out offer­ing some­thing in exchange for your requested change. State and fed­eral sched­ul­ing need to be changed first.

So, here is how I see it.

Here’s what the Brook­ings insti­tute is proposing:

On page 21, the authors sug­gest sev­eral options:

  • amend­ing the drug treaties;
  • denounc­ing them and then acced­ing to them once more, while tak­ing nec­es­sary reser­va­tions to account for legal­ized marijuana;
  • reach­ing an agree­ment inter se, as between the United States and drug treaty states also desir­ing to revamp their domes­tic mar­i­juana policies;
  • or mod­i­fy­ing the sched­ul­ing of mar­i­juana within the treaties.

I would argue these options should be pur­sued in reverse order, start­ing with mod­i­fy­ing the sched­ul­ing of mar­i­juana within the treaties. The rea­son for that is because it is the way the treaties were intended to work. Sched­ul­ing is for flex­i­bil­ity. Resched­ul­ing would sim­ply prove the treaties were writ­ten well and can evolve over time.

It is well set­tled by now that states are not pre­empted by fed­eral law from chang­ing their pol­icy on marijuana.

So, we are not in vio­la­tion of any of these treaties, although these authors and pan­elists seem to think we are. That is sad com­men­tary on the pathetic lack of under­stand­ing schol­ars have today regard­ing our fed­er­al­ist sys­tem of gov­ern­ment and national sovereignty.

Since we have sched­ul­ing at all three lev­els, state, national, and inter­na­tional, that would be the first step to take. If the prob­lem can be solved by sched­ul­ing, and it clearly can since sched­ul­ing includes total removal of any sub­stance from all of the sched­ules, then that has to be tried first.

All of these laws were writ­ten to include flex­i­bil­ity so that the law would not have to be re-written. So, re-writing the law needs to be our last option, not our first.

As stated in the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, 1776:

Pru­dence, indeed, will dic­tate that Gov­ern­ments long estab­lished should not be changed for light and tran­sient causes; and accord­ingly all expe­ri­ence hath shewn, that mankind are more dis­posed to suf­fer, while evils are suf­fer­able, than to right them­selves by abol­ish­ing the forms to which they are accus­tomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpa­tions, pur­su­ing invari­ably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despo­tism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Gov­ern­ment, and to pro­vide new Guards for their future security.

We can’t ever make a cred­i­ble case for abol­ish­ing these inter­na­tional treaties if we don’t use the mech­a­nisms estab­lished in the treaties for address­ing the evils in them.

So, the dan­ger I am see­ing is focus­ing on top down strate­gies, when our sys­tem guar­an­tees a bot­tom up struc­ture. If we don’t stand up for our rights, then it will become a top down sys­tem by default, because that’s how gov­ern­ment nat­u­rally func­tions. The Brook­ings Insti­tute seems to think this is a top down prob­lem, and that’s con­trary to our sys­tem of government.

Any gap at the bot­tom will be filled in from the top. That’s just how gov­ern­ment oper­ates. But, it’s our own fault if we leave that gap at the bot­tom for the top to fill.

I just don’t see any schol­arly work ade­quately address­ing this topic. Either schol­ars have given up hope in the peo­ple gov­ern­ing them­selves, or they just can’t see it in the first place. What a sad state of affairs.

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Legislative Goals for 2015

Sunny-084If you’re like me and you stopped using mar­i­juana 24 years ago (I’ll admit not very peo­ple are like me), then you’d prob­a­bly like to see some progress being made on reform­ing the image and rep­u­ta­tion of mar­i­juana (slan­dered and vil­i­fied in a smear cam­paign best known as “Reefer Mad­ness”) in Iowa. And, if you’re like me, you saw the issue of cannabis extract get­ting seri­ous atten­tion from leg­is­la­tors across the county this year. Eleven states, includ­ing Iowa, enacted cannabis extract laws this year. So, here’s a list of stuff I’d like to see in 2015.

An absolute must in 2015 is reclas­si­fy­ing mar­i­juana in Iowa. Clas­si­fy­ing mar­i­juana as a plant with no med­ical value makes no sense now that Iowa rec­og­nizes the med­ical value this plant has. The Iowa Board of Phar­macy rec­om­mended reclas­si­fy­ing mar­i­juana in 2010 and is going to do it again toward the end of this year in Novem­ber of 2014. A leg­isla­tive study com­mit­tee of ten leg­is­la­tors voted nine to one to rec­om­mend reclas­si­fi­ca­tion of mar­i­juana in Sep­tem­ber of 2014. This is the bot­tom line and it’s essen­tial that mar­i­juana is reclas­si­fied here in Iowa in 2015.

Another rec­om­men­da­tion from the leg­isla­tive study com­mit­tee is cul­ti­vat­ing the mar­i­juana for the cannabis extract here in Iowa. Six of the ten leg­is­la­tors on the study com­mit­tee voted to grow the cannabis in Iowa and the gov­er­nor said he is open to it. Fed­eral law was actu­ally amended ear­lier this year to allow states to cul­ti­vate indus­trial hemp and there’s prob­a­bly a way to make med­ical extracts from it. We need to start this research here in Iowa.

Finally, a lot of folks would like to expand the list of con­di­tions that cannabis extract can be used to treat.

If we could accom­plish any or all of these goals in 2015, we would be well on the way to reform­ing the image and rep­u­ta­tion of mar­i­juana in Iowa as good for some­thing instead of good for nothing.

A poll con­ducted by Quin­nip­iac Uni­ver­sity in March of 2014 found that:
81% of Iowans sup­port med­ical use of mar­i­juana
41% of Iowans sup­port per­sonal use of marijuana
A poll con­ducted by The Des Moines Reg­is­ter in Feb­ru­ary of 2010 found that:
64% of Iowans sup­port med­ical use of mar­i­juana
28% of Iowans sup­port per­sonal use of marijuana
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Rescheduling’s Biggest Opponent Reverses Position

baudlerIf you’ve been fol­low­ing along, you’ll know that when the Iowa Board of Phar­macy rec­om­mended resched­ul­ing mar­i­juana in 2010, the chair of the Iowa House Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Safety, Green­field Repub­li­can, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clel Baudler, filed his own bill in 2011 oppos­ing the Iowa Board of Phar­macy, H.F. 183 (by the Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Safety), for­merly H.S.B. 4 (by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Baudler). At the time, Baudler stated, “I still do not under­stand the board of pharmacy’s deci­sion to sup­port med­ical mar­i­juana and I sure as hell don’t agree with it.” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Baudler’s bill died in com­mit­tee but was reborn again in 2013 as H.F. 168 (by the Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Safety), for­merly H.S.B. 52 (by the Governor’s Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy). The Office of Drug Con­trol Policy’s bill, guided through the Iowa House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by Chair­man Baudler, passed in the Iowa House in 2013 but died in sub­com­mit­tee in the Iowa Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on the Judi­ciary in 2014.

What hap­pened to Chair­man Baudler in 2014 was noth­ing short of a mir­a­cle. Par­ents of chil­dren with epilepsy gave Chair­man Baudler an epiphany. Chair­man Baudler became the cham­pion of a mar­i­juana extract law that was later signed by Iowa Gov­er­nor Branstad on May 30, 2014, S.F. 2360. At an interim study com­mit­tee con­ducted by a bipar­ti­san group of Iowa sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2014, Chair­man Baudler was the sin­gle Repub­li­can to vote for grow­ing mar­i­juana in Iowa to make the mar­i­juana extract, and was one of four Repub­li­cans to vote for resched­ul­ing mar­i­juana. All five Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee voted for both pro­pos­als. But, the moral of the story here is that opin­ions change in the blink of an eye.

Another story is the Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy, which is an exec­u­tive branch agency with no author­ity to rec­om­mend, or oppose, sched­ul­ing. The Iowa Board of Phar­macy is the sole exec­u­tive branch agency respon­si­ble for rec­om­mend­ing sched­ul­ing to the Iowa Leg­is­la­ture. It’s a vio­la­tion of the exec­u­tive branch’s con­sti­tu­tional duty to faith­fully exe­cute the laws to send one exec­u­tive branch agency to oppose another exec­u­tive branch agency when one of them is autho­rized by the Leg­is­la­ture and the other is not. The Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy has seen it’s fund­ing reduced over the past few years, and deservedly so. This agency should be abol­ished by the Iowa Leg­is­la­ture for fail­ure to honor the Con­sti­tu­tion of Iowa.

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An explanation of marijuana’s scheduling is essential

I have filed four peti­tions for mar­i­juana resched­ul­ing with the Iowa Board of Phar­macy (2008, 2012, 2013, and 2014), two with­out any sci­en­tific or med­ical evi­dence (2008 and 2014), and two with sci­en­tific and med­ical evi­dence (2012 and 2013). I won the two that did not include any sci­en­tific or med­ical evi­dence, prov­ing that I am not qual­i­fied to present sci­en­tific or med­ical evi­dence and prov­ing that my legal argu­ments are solid enough to pro­voke action by the board with­out any sci­en­tific or med­ical evi­dence. The rea­son for this appears to be sim­ple. The board does not need my assis­tance in find­ing sci­en­tific and med­ical infor­ma­tion on marijuana.

One of my con­cerns is that the board never issued any expla­na­tion for it’s rul­ing in 2010, and now they admit nobody under­stood it. I’ve asked if they will put a lit­tle more sub­stance into it this time.

Feb­ru­ary 17, 2010 (Scott Galen­beck was the board’s attor­ney and Vern Ben­jamin was the board’s chair)
SCOTT GALENBECK: Vern, I have a ques­tion. Do you have any inter­est in doing some expla­na­tion of why, I mean artic­u­lat­ing in a doc­u­ment that would go to the leg­is­la­ture your rea­sons or your think­ing. I know that’s a lot of work, but…
VERNON BENJAMIN: Well, I was think­ing that when we were doing, when I said we as a board then could talk and give… But, yeah.

March 3, 2010 (Carl Olsen was the peti­tioner and Lloyd Jessen was the board’s exec­u­tive direc­tor)
CARL OLSEN: Do you have any idea when the Iowa Board of Phar­macy will issue its writ­ten expla­na­tion of how it arrived at its con­clu­sions on Feb­ru­ary 17th?
LLOYD JESSEN: The Board has not set a time for the release of a writ­ten explanation.

August 27, 2010 (Ed Maier is the cur­rent board chair)
ED MAIER: I think it’s impor­tant, what­ever we do, that we have a solid cut mes­sage that the peo­ple under­stand. Last time, we were totally mis­un­der­stood, exactly what was happening.

To be fair to all involved, look at the time line of events.

My argu­ment has always been that sched­ule I, both state and fed­eral, inter­feres with the imple­men­ta­tion of state med­ical mar­i­juana laws.

As of July 1, 2014, Iowa is now one of those states with a med­ical mar­i­juana law.

I filed my cur­rent peti­tion on July 7, 2014.

So, that should explain why I was able to walk in on Wednes­day and get a unan­i­mous rul­ing grant­ing my petition.

It also explains why the board had a hard time explain­ing what they were doing in 2010.

Remem­ber, I never asked them to rec­om­mend a med­ical cannabis pro­gram like New Mex­ico, or any program.

The only thing I asked them for in 2008 was to ini­ti­ate the process to remove mar­i­juana from sched­ule I.

Obvi­ously, the board thought it would make sense to rec­om­mend a state pro­gram to explain why they wanted to remove mar­i­juana from sched­ule I.

But, that made every­thing more complicated.

Now, it’s sim­ple. We have a state med­ical mar­i­juana law and both state and fed­eral sched­ule I inter­fere with its implementation.

I want the state of Iowa to help me get fed­eral sched­ul­ing changed.

This might apply in dif­fer­ent con­texts as well. For exam­ple, when some­one tries to chal­lenge sched­ul­ing in a crim­i­nal case, the court will usu­ally say the defen­dant had admin­is­tra­tive reme­dies avail­able and did not exhaust those admin­is­tra­tive reme­dies prior to get­ting arrested. But, here in Iowa, we have not only exhausted those admin­is­tra­tive reme­dies, we’ve won a rul­ing in our favor at the admin­is­tra­tive level. I am fol­low­ing a fed­eral case that seems to break this rule about exhaust­ing admin­is­tra­tive reme­dies, called United States v. Schweder, et al., No. 2:11-cr-00449-KJM-16 (East­ern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia). If you’re not famil­iar with it, I have all the doc­u­ments at

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Pharmacy board hearing on August 27, 2014

Wednes­day, August 27, 2014, approx­i­mately 9:39 a.m.

Board mem­bers present: Susan Frey (tem­po­rary chair, licensed phar­ma­cist), LaDonna Gra­tias (pub­lic mem­ber), Edward Maier (chair, licensed phar­ma­cist), Edward McKenna (licensed phar­ma­cist), Sharon Meyer (licensed phar­ma­cist), Judith M. Trumpy (pub­lic mem­ber). Board mem­ber absent: James Miller (licensed pharmacist).

Susan Frey: Next up we have 4.4 and that is a peti­tion for agency action for mar­i­juana sched­ul­ing from Carl Olsen.

Carl Olsen: Yes.

Susan Frey: You’re here.

Carl Olsen: Are you ready?

Susan Frey: I’m ready.

Carl Olsen: Alright. My name is Carl Olsen. I would like the board to rec­om­mend the Iowa leg­is­la­ture remove mar­i­juana from Sched­ule 1. The code sec­tions are Iowa Code Chap­ter 124 Sec­tion 201 and 124.203. Under those sec­tions the board has the author­ity to rec­om­mend the leg­is­la­ture remove mar­i­juana from Sched­ule 1. I made this rec­om­men­da­tion last year. I made this rec­om­men­da­tion sev­eral times, this request. But, par­tic­u­larly last year I made this same request. At that time there were nine­teen (19) states that had legal­ized the med­ical use of mar­i­juana. As of today there are twenty-three (23). And as of this year another eleven (11) have enacted cannabis oil bills, like Iowa enacted this year, that require peo­ple to leave the state of Iowa, go to another state where they can obtain this oil, one of the states where it is autho­rized to pro­duce the cannabis, and then bring it back to Iowa, which vio­lates state and fed­eral laws all the way through.

Remov­ing mar­i­juana from Sched­ule 1 would be an impor­tant step in a big obsta­cle, fed­eral Sched­ule 1. The board has the author­ity to rec­om­mend that mar­i­juana be removed from state Sched­ule 1. That would be an impor­tant first step in send­ing an impor­tant mes­sage to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that there’s a big prob­lem with Sched­ule 1 and the imple­men­ta­tion of these state laws. We’ve got thirty-four (34) states now and last year when I was here it was only nine­teen (19). So, you can see how rapidly this is mov­ing for­ward. I don’t think the board can say this is not a valid con­cern, or that the board should not be say­ing, be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the leg­isla­tive process as required by the Iowa Code.

Thank you.

Susan Frey: Any com­ments from board mem­bers? Thoughts?

And, we’re hand­ing out an arti­cle from the Des Moines Reg­is­ter today, or yes­ter­day August 26th, on the cannabis oil.

Carl Olsen: Yeah, there was a hear­ing held yes­ter­day in the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health on that.

Sharon Meyer: You would like a rec­om­men­da­tion from the board to the sched­ule. Here, it’s say­ing the fam­ily could find an out of state sup­plier. It would be imple­mented, … Sorry, got on the wrong para­graph. It says peo­ple are frus­trated by the pace of the imple­men­ta­tion and the oil is not avail­able. Are you say­ing that we need to make a state­ment to the legislature?

Carl Olsen: I don’t think the leg­is­la­ture under­stands the tech­ni­cal nature of the five (5) sched­ules, and I think the board does. And I think they need the assis­tance of the board with that par­tic­u­lar issue. It’s obvi­ous they want to do some­thing. And, it’s obvi­ous that they’ve started to move for­ward. But, I don’t think they under­stand how impor­tant the sched­ul­ing is. Sched­ule 1 says no accepted med­ical use in treat­ment in the United States, and that is just not the case. It has accepted med­ical use in thirty-four (34) states. Why the fed­eral gov­ern­ment hasn’t moved it out of Sched­ule 1 I can’t say. But this board rec­om­mended it be removed from state sched­ule 1 in 2010. And, I think the board should con­tinue to stand behind that and not let the leg­is­la­ture think that you’ve changed your mind, or that you’re not inter­ested any­more, or … I’ve heard that com­ment from leg­is­la­tors, like, “What’s hap­pened with the board of phar­macy? Why are they back­ing out on this?” So, I think there’s real dam­age there.

Ed Maier: Madam chair, this is Ed. I think a cou­ple of us that looked through this in 2010, I think this is impor­tant enough, if we can, I think we should maybe some­how dis­cuss, whether we appoint a com­mit­tee, or send it to rules com­mit­tee to talk about, or what­ever, for some rec­om­men­da­tions, and talk. I think it’s impor­tant, what­ever we do, that we have a solid cut mes­sage that the peo­ple under­stand. Last time, we were totally mis­un­der­stood, exactly what was hap­pen­ing. I don’t know that, I guess I might rec­om­mend that we some­how study this and that we take it up at the next meet­ing if that’s possible.

Susan Frey: Well, you’ve been… I was not aware of the recent hear­ing. I guess I would like to, you know, look at some of that infor­ma­tion and incor­po­rate that. I think, you know, I would cer­tainly be will­ing to estab­lish a study group.

Carl Olsen: I par­tic­i­pated in that hear­ing yes­ter­day and they said they would give me all, every­thing that was sub­mit­ted, and a record­ing of the hear­ing and all of that.

Terry Witkowski: Just to clar­ify, that hear­ing was their pro­posed rules.

Carl Olsen: Yeah.

Terry Witkowski: for the cannabid­iol pro­gram, correct?

Carl Olsen: Right. And there were a lot of com­ments that weren’t… didn’t stay con­fined to that and they kept say­ing you’ll have to talk to the leg­is­la­tors about. But, any­way, it was all…

Susan Frey: And, I mean… If they’re talk­ing about rules, that will set a prece­dent also, so I think that’s prob­a­bly some­thing that we need to, you know, look into a lit­tle deeper, fur­ther. So, I would enter­tain a motion to form a…

Terry Witkowski: You want to refer it to a com­mitt­tee, or form a sep­a­rate committee?

Susan Frey: Well, Ed sug­gested… Ed, do you want to go to rules com­mit­tee with that or do you want a sep­a­rate committee?

Ed Maier: You know, I’m not sure. I don’t know where the rules com­mit­tee is now. I know that they have a con­sid­er­able amount of work that they’re doing on leg­is­la­tion and other things, so I might defer to some­body on the rules com­mit­tee as to whether they would pre­fer that. Or, do we pre­fer a sep­a­rate com­mit­tee that would take a look at all of the new things that have hap­pened and try to make some sort of recommendation>

Terry Witkowski: Do you antic­i­pate hav­ing some­thing ready to present a leg­isla­tive pro­posal this year? Because the dead­line for that is the end of November.

Ed Maier: The end of November?

Terry Witkowski: Yes. Really by Thanks­giv­ing we have to have it sub­mit­ted. It would have to go to, you’d have to have a leg­is­la­tor to present it.

Ed Maier: So, Terry, if we were to defer it and take action one way or the other at our next meet­ing, would that be too late? Or, is that push­ing it?

Terry Witkowski: You could, if we had a pro­posal ready for the next board meet­ing, that would be timely.

Ed Maier: Okay. I think that’s prob­a­bly what we need to do. Either rules,… Rules is really, really busy, and I know they have been, but, you know, maybe a sep­a­rate com­mit­tee, a small com­mit­tee that could take a look at this stuff and then get together and just decide on a recommendation.

Ed McKenna: Being on the rules com­mit­tee I would prob­a­bly agree with Ed that we should have a sep­a­rate com­mit­tee and get more input from other people.

Susan Frey: I would agree.

Ed McKenna: I know we have a lot of sep­a­rate com­mit­tees, but…

Susan Frey: Okay, well…

Terry Witkowski: Ed, did you want to be on that com­mit­tee? Or, chair that committee?

Ed Maier: Let me…

Terry Witkowski: You have the his­tory, so I’m think­ing that that might be, you know, it would be a good thing to have some­body with that…

Ed Maier: Yes, Yeah, I would do that.

Terry Witkowski: You can read all the cases you want this weekend.


Ed Maier: You got it Terry.

Lloyd Jessen: Why don’t we have a motion then to form a com­mit­tee with Ed as chair and then I’ll work with Ed so,…

Ed Maier: There you go. We’ll work together to put a com­mit­tee together here and get it taken care of.

Terry Witkowski: Ask the board mem­bers to see if anybody’s inter­ested, too.

Lloyd Jessen: Yeah, we can do that.

Sharon Meyer: So moved.

Susan Frey: Okay, it’s been moved. Do I have a second?

Ed McKenna: Second.

Susan Frey: Okay, it’s been moved and sec­onded to form a com­mit­tee to review the peti­tion on agency action for mar­i­juana sched­ul­ing with a, to bring it back at our Novem­ber meet­ing. All of those in favor say aye. Want a role call vote?

Ed Maier: Maier, aye.

LaDonna Gra­tias: Gra­tias, aye.

Ed McKenna: Aye.

Sharon Meyer: Meyer, aye.

Judith M. Trumpy: Trumpy, aye.

Susan Frey: Frey, aye. All those opposed? Motion carries.

Carl Olsen: Well, I have to get back to work, but thank you all. You guys are awe­some. I’ll see you later.

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Cannabis Oil in Iowa

Med­ical mar­i­juana has finally made its legal entrance into Iowa’s cul­ture with the legal­iza­tion of cannabis oil on July 1, 2014 (Iowa Med­ical Cannabid­iol Act of 2014). In response, a new busi­ness ven­ture here in Iowa has shown an inter­est in sup­ply­ing this prod­uct, iCann: Rea­son­able Cannabis Solu­tions in Urban­dale, Iowa. I talked briefly with one of the own­ers today and I’ll be talk­ing with him again soon to get more details. In an email to Crys­tal Brunt, Iowa NORML Women’s Alliance, the com­pany said it is attempt­ing to work with leg­is­la­tors and patients. Two of the orga­ni­za­tions men­tioned in the email were Advo­cacy Strate­gies and the Uni­ver­sity of Iowa Col­lege of Med­i­cine, both of which would be key resources for any busi­ness ven­ture to be suc­cess­ful in Iowa. I’m still try­ing to under­stand the legal issues. A phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­uct by the name of Epid­i­olex man­u­fac­tured by GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals is cur­rently in phase 3 clin­i­cal tri­als in Iowa. What is impor­tant to under­stand is that the cannabis oil that has just been legal­ized here in Iowa is not Epid­i­olex, which explains why a com­pany like iCann: Rea­son­able Cannabis Solu­tions would be inter­ested in dis­trib­ut­ing it in Iowa. Cannabis oil has not been approved by the FDA and there is no sign the FDA will be con­sid­er­ing it in the near future. One of the inter­est­ing devel­op­ments is that Con­gress recently legal­ized the pro­duc­tion of indus­trial hemp and indus­trial hemp has a high level of cannabid­iol. So, although the FDA hasn’t approved it, it would appear that cannabis oil can actu­ally be made from indus­trial hemp. The fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Act of 2014, Sec­tion 7606, autho­rizes the pro­duc­tion of hemp for both “agri­cul­tural or aca­d­e­mic research”, so it appears that opens the door for cannabis oil pro­duc­tion. Stay tuned for fur­ther developments.

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Another awful state platform committee meeting

The Iowa Demo­c­ra­tic Party (IDP) State Plat­form Com­mit­tee met again on Sat­ur­day, March 17, to fin­ish our work on the IDP State Plat­form Com­mit­tee report to the IDP State Con­ven­tion on June 21. The dead­line for sub­mit­ting the report to the IDP is May 23. The room was sched­uled for 8.5 hours, We started at 10:00 a.m., but we spent the first hour hear­ing from “impor­tant” peo­ple instead of get­ting to work. Then, we spent two hours on the first sub­com­mit­tee report (Agri­cul­ture and Envi­ron­ment) of six reports, and then took an hour for lunch. So, we killed four hours and only got one sub­com­mit­tee report fin­ished and still had five sec­tions left to go. If you’re doing the math, that would be 10 more hours, but the room was only avail­able for another 4.5 hours.

So, we sped up a lit­tle and did the next two sec­tions (Econ­omy, Com­merce and Labor; Edu­ca­tion) in less than an hour each. How­ever, when we got to the Gov­ern­ment and Law sub­com­mit­tee report, that sub­com­mit­tee had not reduced their report to the sug­gested word limit and we spent another two hours on that report, which put us right up to 6:00 p.m. While this was going on, the Health and Human Ser­vices sub­com­mit­tee decided to leave the room and re-write their sub­com­mit­tee report, leav­ing us short on mem­bers who should have been pay­ing atten­tion to the Gov­ern­ment and Law sub­com­mit­tee report instead of doing the work they should have done before the meet­ing. When they came back in at 6:00 p.m., some­one said they had done such a good job re-writing their sub­com­mit­tee report that we should just accept it with­out see­ing it. I saw a plank on med­ical cannabis I did not like in that sub­com­mit­tee report before it got re-written and it was still poorly writ­ten after they re-wrote the report, so I made an objec­tion I had planned to make ear­lier. My objec­tion was upheld by the group and we pro­ceeded to review the sub­com­mit­tee report. So, here was my objection:

In the 2012 IDP Plat­form, we had
Page 20, Line 367, Health & Human Ser­vices, Plank 159
We sup­port: med­ical cannabis

In the 2014 First Dis­trict Plat­form, they had
Page 9, Line 417, Gov­ern­ment & Law
We sup­port: Legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana
Page 11, Line 514, Health & Human Ser­vices
We sup­port: Fed­eral and State laws allow­ing med­ical use of marijuana

In the 2014 Sec­ond Dis­trict Plat­form, they had
Page 9, Line 385, Gov­ern­ment and Law
We sup­port: Cannabis legal­iza­tion, reg­u­la­tion, tax­a­tion
Page 13, Line 565, Health and Human Ser­vices
We sup­port: Legal/accessible med­ical mar­i­juana (MMJ)/derivatives

In the 2014 Third Dis­trict Plat­form, we had
Page 8, Line 359, Gov­ern­ment and Law, Plank 15
We sup­port: legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, with reg­u­la­tion and tax­a­tion
Page 11, Line 470, Health Care and Human Ser­vices, Plank 8
We sup­port: legal­iz­ing med­ical marijuana

In the 2014 Fourth Dis­trict Plat­form, they had
Page 11, Line 470, Health and Human Ser­vices
We sup­port: Resched­ul­ing cannabis to a sched­ule 2 substance

The Health and Human Ser­vices sub­com­mit­tee wanted to go with “resched­ul­ing cannabis to sched­ule 2″ or some­thing like that. I objected to it and said we should have “med­ical cannabis” instead, because most peo­ple don’t know what sched­ule 2 is. I said I had endured all of the delay to make this one objec­tion and I wasn’t going to be cheated out of it. I won the debate and we changed it to “med­ical cannabis.” But, there was a lot of other stuff in that report that ended up being amended, and it was prob­a­bly 8:00 p.m. before we moved on to the last sub­com­mit­tee report, Inter­na­tional Affairs. We ended up leav­ing at 11:30 p.m. and we were still well over the word limit of 3000 words. We started out in the morn­ing at 3600 words and we never addressed that issue through­out the day. I’m guess­ing we left that meet­ing some­where around 3300 words. And, because the meet­ing was announced as being over by 6:30 p.m., a lot of mem­bers had left when these impor­tant votes were being taken. These meet­ings have not been brought to order prop­erly, so I have writ­ten a Plat­form Com­mit­tee Bill of Rights which you can find at:

I am pre­sent­ing my Plat­form Com­mit­tee Bill of Rights at our Polk County Cen­tral Com­mit­tee meet­ing on May 22, 2014, and again at our Third Con­gres­sional Dis­trict Cen­tral Com­mit­tee meet­ing on May 31, 2014.

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Another difficult year on the state platform committee

After suc­cess­fully chair­ing my con­gres­sional dis­trict plat­form com­mit­tee this year, I joined up with the Iowa Demo­c­ra­tic Party state plat­form com­mit­tee again. This is my eighth cycle in a 16-year span. I was elected sec­re­tary of the state plat­form com­mit­tee in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. I resigned as sec­re­tary in 2013 because the state plat­form chair and the state party staff rearranged the plat­form after I had sub­mit­ted it to the party and did not tell me about it until I arrived at a pub­lic hear­ing and my line num­bers did not match what was being dis­trib­uted at the pub­lic hear­ing. Things are not going a whole lot bet­ter this year.

The first meet­ing of the plat­form com­mit­tee on May 3 was can­celled because some of the mem­bers wanted to attend another meet­ing. I guess Democ­rats all have to go to the same meet­ings. I asked if we would get an addi­tional week to draft the plat­form and could not get an answer. I have since got­ten the answer and the answer is no, we will not get an addi­tional week to work on the plat­form. We just lost a week.

The sec­ond meet­ing of the plat­form com­mit­tee was sup­posed to start at 11:00 a.m. on May 10, but they had sched­uled another meet­ing at the same time. Again, it seems like Democ­rats all have to be at the same place at the same time to get any work done. So, every­one who showed up on time was forced to wait for the meet­ing to start. It took a total of 2.5 hours to elect three peo­ple as per­ma­nent offi­cers. I was accused of mak­ing motion after motion to delay the meet­ing, but I never made any motions. I ran for plat­form chair and got a tie vote of 27 to 27 on the first vote, then 25 to 25 on the sec­ond vote, and I finally lost 26 to 27 on the final vote. I was nom­i­nated for vice chair, but I refused. I was nom­i­nated for sec­re­tary, but after I accepted that nom­i­na­tion some­one moved that we have co-secretaries. I was then added as a can­di­date for the elec­tion of co-secretaries with­out any­one ask­ing me if I accepted. I made an objec­tion and said I had not accepted any nom­i­na­tion for co-secretary. My name was removed, and they elected two co-secretaries.

Not every­one was on board with the delay, and a motion was made to seat the alter­nates and start the meet­ing. It was agreed to seat the alter­nates around noon, but it was not agreed to start the meet­ing. There were 48 peo­ple in the room (a mix of elected mem­bers and alter­nates) and the com­mit­tee has total vot­ing strength of 50 elected mem­bers. It was then approved to seat the next two peo­ple that walked in (either elected mem­bers or elected alter­nates), until the strength was a full 50. How­ever, this did not leave room for the peo­ple still at the other meet­ing. A sug­ges­tion was made that we increase the num­ber to over 50, but that motion was never made because it was agreed it would be out of order. Then a sug­ges­tion was made to unseat some of the alter­nates, but that motion was never made because it was agreed it would be unfair. Finally, some­one men­tioned that the state party can appoint up to 8 at-large mem­bers. It was then agreed that the miss­ing mem­bers would be seated as appointed mem­bers by the state party when they came in. All this took about 1.5 hours before we started hav­ing elections.

I’ve seen some bad meet­ings before, but this one took the cake.

I’ve pro­posed some amend­ments to the Iowa Demo­c­ra­tic Party Con­sti­tu­tion that I hope will begin to address some of these prob­lems. You can read my pro­posed amend­ments by click­ing here.

  • Set quo­rum at 40%
  • Set the first meet­ing the week imme­di­ately fol­low­ing the con­ven­tion at which the mem­bers are elected
  • Set the time for start­ing the meet­ing at 15 min­utes, after which any mem­ber can call the meet­ing to order
  • Elect per­ma­nent offi­cers as soon as there is a quorum
  • A quo­rum is any com­bi­na­tion of mem­bers and alter­nates, as long as the num­ber allowed for a con­stituent unit is not exceeded (on the state plat­form com­mit­tee, each con­gres­sional dis­trict gets a spe­cific num­ber of members)
  • appointed mem­bers must be appointed before the meet­ing starts, not 1.5 hours after the meet­ing has started

I think we will still need to amend the bylaws to get con­stituent units to report their plat­forms and elec­tions imme­di­ately so we can actu­ally start work­ing on the next con­ven­tion within 7 days of the pre­vi­ous con­ven­tion or caucus.

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The Official Position of the Branstad Administration

Des Moines 20100822 066While Gov­er­nor Branstad lies about the offi­cial posi­tion of his admin­is­tra­tion, the Iowa Board of Phar­macy, the admin­is­tra­tive agency given the task of for­mu­lat­ing the offi­cial pol­icy of the Branstad Admin­is­tra­tion, con­tin­ues to say their offi­cial posi­tion is that mar­i­juana is med­i­cine and the leg­is­la­ture should cre­ate a med­ical mar­i­juana pro­gram. You can lis­ten for your­self by click­ing here.

The first 52 min­utes of the hear­ing was peo­ple tes­ti­fy­ing about their need for med­ical mar­i­juana. Then there was a dis­cus­sion of the law that cre­ated the duty of the board to make rules for med­ical use of mar­i­juana that lasted for another 19 min­utes, and then, finally for the last 20 min­utes or so the board explains why it still sup­ports the rul­ing it made in 2010.

When the leg­is­la­ture cre­ates a law giv­ing a spe­cific admin­is­tra­tive agency the duty of mak­ing a deci­sion for the exec­u­tive branch, it is the con­sti­tu­tional duty of the gov­er­nor to faith­fully exe­cute that law. How­ever, in this sit­u­a­tion, Gov­er­nor Branstad is deny­ing that his admin­is­tra­tion sup­ports reclas­si­fi­ca­tion or med­ical use of mar­i­juana. That is a vio­la­tion of the Iowa Con­sti­tu­tion, imposter gov­er­nor, sir.

This was also con­firmed when we went to trial against the Iowa Board of Phar­macy on Jan­u­ary 3, 2014. In the tran­script of the hear­ing, on page 17, the judge asked the board’s attorney:

THE COURT: In fact, it made no oppo­site rec­om­men­da­tion; is that correct?

MS. GAVIN: That’s cor­rect, Your Honor. The Board has not taken any pub­lic posi­tion since this 2010 recommendation.

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Governor Branstad’s Straw Man

Gov­er­nor Branstad said he’s opposed to a med­ical mar­i­juana pro­gram like California’s, while ignor­ing the fact that the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health has rec­om­mended a pro­gram like New Mexico’s Med­ical Cannabis Pro­gram. Clel BaudlerAs you may recall, Iowa State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clel Baudler went to Cal­i­for­nia in 2010 and lied about hav­ing hem­or­rhoids to get a med­ical rec­om­men­da­tion for mar­i­juana. The leg­is­la­tion being pro­posed here in Iowa, SF 2215, would require a doc­tor and a patient to sub­mit an appli­ca­tion to the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health, which would then review the appli­ca­tion to make sure it is legit­i­mate. Gov­er­nor Branstad is not being hon­est when he says Iowa’s med­ical mar­i­juana law will be like California’s. Obvi­ously, Gov­er­nor Branstad would like every­one to think the leg­is­la­tion being pro­posed here in Iowa is like Cal­i­for­nia, so he can set up a straw man argu­ment and knock it down. Here’s what Gov­er­nor Branstad had to say this morning:

Gov­er­nor Branstad cites deaths from pre­scrip­tion drug abuse, but there are no deaths from mar­i­juana. Branstad cites the abuse of pre­scrip­tion drugs, but fails to acknowl­edge that the extra pro­tec­tion pro­vided in SF 2215 ensures that every appli­ca­tion for med­ical use of mar­i­juana is indi­vid­u­ally reviewed by the Iowa Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health before it is approved. A doc­tor will not be able to sim­ply write out a pre­scrip­tion as we cur­rently allow for extremely lethal nar­cotics. Marijuana’s safety record is beyond dis­pute. The Chief Admin­is­tra­tive Law Judge for the U.S. Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion found that, “Mar­i­juana, in its nat­ural form, is one of the safest ther­a­peu­ti­cally active sub­stances known to man.” DEA Docket No. 86–22, Sept. 6, 1988.

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