Iowa recreational weed
Iowa recreational weed

Will Iowa Get Recreational Cannabis Through a Constitutional Amendment?

Democrats in Iowa will get recreational weed one way or the other!

Posted by:
Laurel Leaf on Tuesday Jan 4, 2022

iowa recreational weed

Voters would be the deciding factor in whether or not Iowa's cannabis legislation would be approved. The State's Democrat lawmakers have proposed a recreational marijuana measure enacted through a constitutional amendment.

Iowans have access to the state's medical cannabis program. But, this program has been labeled "weak" by advocates in the state who claim it is too shallow with limited access. The program provided cannabis medications to patients suffering from specific ailments. Now, Iowans want and need more! A trio of Democratic senators has taken it upon themselves to offer more.

State senators Joe Bolkcom, Janet Petersen, and Sarah Trone have called for new legislation to authorize the use, possession, sales, and overall establishment of a recreational cannabis industry in the state. Without an amendment of the current laws, persons found smoking, dealing, or cultivating cannabis in Iowa risk being sentenced to many years in a correctional facility. The state's Democrats are tired of this archaic law, and they are calling for change.


Constitutional Amendment in 2022?

The group of senators announced the proposal at a press conference held last Tuesday. They disclosed that the measure would be introduced to the state's congress at the first legislative session of the year. The effort seeks to equate cannabis to alcohol in the state.

Senator Bolkcom stated that the bill would cause marijuana to be recognized on the same plane as alcohol. Only residents at least 21 years of age will be permitted to legally buy the drug, the same way only adults are allowed to purchase beers.

The amendment is more or less a broad reform to regulate cannabis in the state. Senator Bolkcom emphasized his point by noting the high number of Iowans convicted of minor, non-violent cannabis offenses in 2020 alone. About 4,300 were sentenced due to cannabis possession in 2020. This high incarceration rate costs the state millions of dollars in generated taxes to maintain. This could be a thing of the past if cannabis is gradually regulated like alcohol.

In an online news conference, Bolkcom explained that the war against marijuana decriminalization had been an expensive failure. Across the United States, several states are modifying their laws to make cannabis use legal due to its detrimental effects on economies, as well as its potential to improve the medical and financial sectors of a state. Many Iowans stand to gain a lot from ending the prohibition of cannabis in the state. Funds could be directed at better things that could benefit lots of residents.


Iowans Support Cannabis Legalization

According to a 2020 poll, at least 53% of Iowans support cannabis reforms in the state. This number will definitely have increased. Senator Janet Petersen used this pill as a vocal point to stress that Iowans are tired of suffering from the failed war on cannabis in the state. Families have been traumatized, and many youths have been incarcerated for offenses that are legal in at least a dozen other states. So many adults have had good opportunities stolen from them by this expensive failure of a war.

Senator Sarah Trone also remarked that Iowa's fixation on cannabis prohibition is slowing the state's progress as neighboring States and the world have embraced the change.

Constitutional amendments are not a straightforward process. The most important decision is made by voters, as they are the general population in the state, and all amendments directly impact them. Sen. Peterson said that a bid for an amendment of cannabis laws equates to an opportunity for Iowan Voters to make a crucial decision. Unlike bills which are primarily decided by the legislature only, constitutional amendments need to pass through the legislature, the general assemblies, and finally, the voters for it to be enacted into law.

So far, the majority of Iowans who wholly back the proposed cannabis reforms are prepared to come out and vote. Recreational cannabis would be a done deal— legalized and regulated— in the state this time next year.


Republicans Control The Legislature

The chances of this bill advancing to the next phase are shaky. The Republican politicians have demonstrated their unwillingness to see that the bill passes. The Governor, Kin Reynolds, has disclosed that recreational cannabis legalization is not a reform he supports. The governor has always been anti-cannabis reforms. In 2020, he stalled a critical bill that improved the state's medical cannabis program.

Another key player in Congress, Senator Brad Zaun, has revealed that he has no intention of allowing the bill to be voted on. Zaun currently chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. In his statement, he referred to the proposed reforms as a joke. He claims that the bill merely shows that the state's Democrats have very few ideas and solutions on how very important problems in the state can be resolved.

Senator Joe Bolkcom says that he is unmoved by the Republicans' stance but instead calls until then to move cannabis reforms forward to allow the needs of voters to be met. He insisted that Republicans are the minority in this issue which has now become mainstream. Whether or not Sen. Brad is bluffing will be seen if the bill advances out of the Judicial committee or is stalled.


Last Words

Iowa is looking to be the twentieth state to enact a recreational cannabis reform in the United States of America. The impact of this decision would be felt in the state's economic standing. As it stands, Illinois is the only neighboring state with a recreational cannabis reform; hence there is limited competition, and Illinois can also serve as a blueprint for how to handle the legislation process for adult-use cannabis. State funds would be duly managed to ensure the new industry is befitting.

Bolkcom believes that in time, Republicans will see the value of letting Iowans make the final decision in this issue. The racial injustice is enough justification for making sure this bill passes. Persons of color in the state are eight times more likely to be stopped or arrested for the most simple cannabis-related offenses. 2022 is the best time to change all these inequalities, which are being backed by bad laws.





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