The Iowa House's stodgy politics too often belong in the Dark Ages. And, with combatants in the War on Drugs in full retreat, it's time to stop making criminals our of Iowa's citizens.
The Democrat-dominated state Senate voted in April to legalize medical marijuana. The bill died in the Republican-controlled House. Further, Iowa is among just 16 states that don't permit widespread access to naloxone, a lifesaving antidote for opiate overdose.
Welcome to the 21st century, representatives. We'd be happy to have you.
Pot is an effective treatment for a slew of ailments, from post-traumatic stress to chemotherapy-induced nausea, studies have shown. And, yet, Republicans are quick to strike it down. Comically, now-unenforced federal law is the excuse. Apparently, the states' rights party is only on patrol when it befits them.
Meanwhile, states throughout the country are adopting common sense medical marijuana laws. Illinois's burgeoning program is just now getting off the ground. State medical officials continuously review what conditions should qualify for marijuana access. Growers and physicians are under strict oversight. It's a highly regulated program designed to ease Illinoisan's pain.
Iowans, on the contrary, are faced with a court date.
It's especially troubling because Iowa's pot ban effectively makes a criminal of anyone who crosses the Mississippi River looking for treatment. Sure, they can get a prescription from a doctor. They can even buy it. But enter the state and face a charge.
Slashing the cost of the criminal justice system is one of Gov. Terry Branstad's focuses this legislative session, remember. Here's an idea: Back off on prosecuting marijuana users.
Naloxone is in the same GOP-directed holding pattern as medical marijuana. Again, the Senate passed legislation to make the drug available to addicts' families. The House refused to act. All the while, the heroin epidemic continues to sweep throughout rural and urban communities.
Heroin knows no economic privilege. It doesn't see color. It feeds off of anyone looking for an escape. It thrives on the human condition.
Illinois Democrats overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto this past year, making naloxone more available. And, even in that case, Rauner's dissent was more about funding the treatment than issuing the drug. Clearly, Illinois's Republican governor understands the importance of quick action when an opiate user takes too much.
For years, the U.S. has pumped Americans full of pain killers. Drugs, such as Oxycodone, pervade society. And slinging the highly addictive pain killers on the black market is big business.
It's a society-wide problem that can't be fixed with punitive measures alone. Treatment, not jail, is the key. But a user has to live long enough to get help. That's where naloxone comes in.
Iowa House Republicans spent last year clinging to punitive, draconian policy, while Illinois came to its senses. Iowa House Republicans preferred a "just say no" fantasyland, instead of facing the harsh realities of the human condition.
They should rejoin reality in 2016.