Another piece of reasonable, science-based legislation. Another dire fate in the Iowa House.
This time, it is common-sense medical marijuana policy that looks doomed due to the House GOP's affinity for the 1950s.
An expansion of Iowa's draconian medical marijuana policy is speeding through the Senate, reports The Gazette of Cedar Rapids. It easily cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on a voice vote, only hours after a subcommittee unanimously supported it.
Then, reporters asked House Republicans about their peers' efforts in the upper chamber. Those House Republicans responded by turning on the fire hose and flooded the place with cold water. It's just too much right now, they said. It's just another step toward a world of jobless stoners dancing to Phish's droning guitar solos instead of going to work, they worried.
The Senate draft is not a wholesale legalization effort. It's not even your standard buy-a-joint with a doctor's note-type system that's so popular in more than half the country. No, the Senate draft still bans the smoking of pot, with or without medical consent.
The Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act does, however, drastically expand the list of ailments for which cannabinoid pharmaceuticals can be prescribed, including post-traumatic stress and cancer. As such, it has the backing of numerous advocacy organizations supporting veterans, cancer survivors and those with afflictions included within the draft.
The bill would, finally, also permit production of marijuana-based medicines in Iowa. At least four growing and manufacturing operations would be licensed within Iowa by Dec. 1, the bill says. A dozen dispensaries also would be approved.
Boil it down: It would comfort the sick. It would create jobs.
But, by all accounts, the House just won't have it.
The very concerns about creating a society where "anyone can get it" doesn't make much sense, because the legislation explicitly bans pot smoking. Such a standard is farcical if considered from a broad view of medicinal drug policy. Opiates are quite literally destroying entire communities in some parts of the country. It's a scourge rooted in easy access to powerful, highly addictive pain killers.
Marijuana is not without risks and pitfalls, research says. But it might as well be cotton candy next to oxycodone, a legal, poorly regulated opiate that renewed the nation's taste for being comfortably numb.
Only misinformed stereotypes and a nonsensical commitment to terrible policy — rejected by conservatives and liberals alike — fuel revolts like this against reasonable marijuana policy. The war on drugs was a massive, costly failure that achieved little but heavily armed police forces and prisons stuffed to the brim with nonviolent offenders.
But the GOP-run Iowa Senate isn't looking to follow Colorado's legalization effort. It isn't even moving to make smokable weed available to someone wracked with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
It does expand the type of cannabinoids that would be available. It does expand the drug's permissible use to a host of other diseases that, according to research, benefit from the plant's effects. It does permit the production of said drugs within Iowa, a potentially significant boost to the state's pharmaceutical sector.
The House is under significant pressure to do something, mind you. Iowa's basically useless marijuana trial period will expire in July, if nothing is done. Look for the House to basically extend the existing program with almost no time before adjournment.
And thousands of Iowans would again be denied access to a drug that could improve their very lives.