Iowa Expected to Legalize Cannabis

Iowa lawmakers are finished waiting for the Red-controlled administration to act on cannabis reform. Yesterday evening, a cluster of lawmakers revealed that they will be debuting a constitutional amendment to let Iowa voters determine on the matter of regulating cannabis “in a manner comparable to the way we handle the use of spirits by Iowans who are at least 21.”

Senators Joe Bolkcom (D-IA), Janet Petersen (D-IA), and Sarah Trone Garriott (D-IA) debuted the project amidst a webinar-styled briefing, highlighting that since established legislative bills to end cannabis prohibition have so far been halted in the state, a modern approach is crucial.

The action will focus on putting a constitutional revision on the ballot for Iowa voters in the next year or two. However, for this to be done, the General Assembly of Iowa will need to pass the proposal twofold during two distinct legislative sessions. It also means that the Republican-collected Iowa legislature will need to get with the program when it comes to the concept of a referendum on the matter.

Bolkcom told a known and respected cannabis news source in a phone interview yesterday evening that the framework is to pass the bill amidst the 100-day legislative session that starts next month. The session will reconvene again in 2023. Questioned what he expects his red colleagues to oppose a constitutional provision on the matter of cannabis as they have with unique measures, the senator expressed the situation is a “jump ball” and “[Iowa lawmakers] are attempting to establish that at that time.”

Administrative leaders and the governor of Iowa have harbored staunch antagonism to cannabis reform efforts in the days of old, which is somewhat the reason even Iowa’s medicinal cannabis program is minute compared to other states, Bolkom expressed.

He also pointed out that some Iowa Republican associates are moving to enact constitutional amendments to put matters comparable to gun control and reproductive privileges on the ballot.

“So as we assumed about how to make headway on cannabis regulation, we thought maybe there would be some appeal in putting this before Iowa voters,” the senator stated. “You don’t need to choose. You can let the voters of Iowa decide if you cannot.”

Despite this, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Zaun (R-IA) expressed to the Quad-City Times that he has “no purpose” of furthering any cannabis legalization legislation via Zaun’s panel.

“Schemes like a constitutional modification on recreational cannabis do a more satisfactory job of conveying the lack of concepts Senate Democrats have to solve the issues of Iowans than any comeback I have,” he shared.

But that’s not going to halt cannabis reform supporters from working to build up momentum for change in Iowa.

While the syntax of the cannabis proposal is still being completed, Bolkom expressed that supporters “want to keep it short,” with a fundamental regulatory system that doesn’t get too deep into logistics.

The objective at this phase is to incorporate some guidelines on taxing cannabis per retail sales and deciding which department will regulate the cannabis program. Still, it will mostly be “template language” typically calling for adult-use cannabis legalization in Iowa.

“We just believe it’s time to give voters in Iowa a voice in the conversation [of cannabis reform.]” 

At last night’s briefing, Petersen expressed that “Iowans are ready to join the cultivating list of states that are regulating cannabis for adult use.”

He also noted that some red members are moving to enact constitutional revisions to put issues related to gun control and reproductive concerns on the ballot.

Expect Stickyleaf to keep you updated on cannabis reform in Iowa as news develops.

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