Pardon the long silence. I’ve been busy working on my state and federal appeals. The state case is finished and I’m waiting for the Iowa Supreme Court ruling. My final brief in the federal appeal is due next week and I’m working on it now. Back in February, the Polk County Democratic Party asked me to write an article for their blog. Apparently, they didn’t like it, so I’m publishing it here. Enjoy!
As an advocate for marijuana law reform, the past couple of years have been very exciting for me as an Iowa Democrat. In 2009, the American Medical Association recommended that marijuana be federally reclassified as a medicine. The following year, in 2010, Senator Joe Bolkcom (D. Iowa City) and Senator Jack Hatch (D. Des Moines) held a public hearing on their proposal to make marijuana legal for medical use here in Iowa. Shortly after that Iowa Senate hearing, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy (which is authorized by law to evaluate marijuana’s medical efficacy in Iowa) voted unanimously that marijuana has medical efficacy and should be legalized for medical use. Not long after, the Iowa Medical Society joined in their support. Also, during that same period of time, the Des Moines Register Poll showed that 64% of Iowans support the legalization of marijuana for medicine.
Our Iowa Democratic Party State Platform has called for the legalization of marijuana for medical use consistently for the past 14 years, as does the report of the Polk County platform committee that was approved on Feb. 11, 2012, for submission to the Polk County Convention delegates on March 10, 2012. This year, another Iowa Democrat, Rep. Bruce Hunter (D. Des Moines), introduced a bill to legalize medical use of marijuana.
This has not gone unnoticed by the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) which introduced a bill to maintain marijuana’s status as a controlled substance with no accepted medical use in the United States. Marijuana has accepted medical use in 16 states and the District of Columbia (with Congressional approval). The ODCP bill does nothing, because marijuana is currently not accepted for medical use in Iowa. The Republican bill is nothing but symbolism of their hatred for sick and injured Iowans. On Feb. 6, House Republicans held a vote on their bill in the House Committee on Public Safety which was opposed by 5 Iowa Democrats, Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad (D. Des Moines), Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines (D. Des Moines), Rep. Deborah L. Berry (D. Waterloo), Rep. Mary Wolfe (D. Clinton), and Rep. Rick Olson (D. Des Moines).
What is a committee on law enforcement doing telling us what we should or should not accept as medicine in Iowa? There are Republicans on the Iowa Board of Pharmacy as well as members of the Iowa Medical Society. ODCP is led by a former radio announcer with a degree in journalism, and that office doles out grant money to law enforcement and substance abuse treatment programs. We need to let medical professionals decide medical use and let law enforcement professionals and substance abuse treatment professionals deal with unauthorized use. It seems simple, but apparently not for Republicans.