Medical Marijuana Resolution Faces Opposition

Medical marijuana law reform advocates faced their toughest opposition in the Iowa Legislature this year, proving that we have become an effective voice. Lack of opposition in prior years proved that we weren't being taken seriously. In 1993, our proposal to provide marijuana to patients from supplies confiscated by state law enforcement sailed through the Iowa Senate by a vote of 50-0 in favor.

The Iowa Medical Society sent its lobbyist to the hearing on our proposed medical marijuana resolution. The Iowa Medical Society opposed the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and was able to persuade the several members of the committee to reject the resolution by a vote of 7-2.

In the Iowa House, the chairman of the House Committee on Human Resources responded to our request for a hearing by stating that medical marijuana is not needed because other drugs are available. The chairman did not respond to our request to identify those drugs, nor to our rebuttal to his argument, in particular, salient quotes from the ruling of Drug Enforcement Administration chief administrative law judge Francis L. Young, finding that most or all of the conventional drugs used for major afflictions are toxic and life-threatening, while marijuana is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man.

In the criminal justice arena, legislation was been introduced to repeal Iowa's marijuana decriminalization laws. Legislation under consideration would have increased the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a six-month jail term to one year and increase the penalty for a second conviction for simple possession of marijuana (within a six-year period) from a six-month jail term to a two-year prison sentence (as well as increasing the fine from $1,000 to $5,000 for the second offense). Fortunately, this legislation failed to make it out of committee.

This year's effort toward repealing decrim follows closely on the heels of Iowa's marijuana drug tax stamp law which was enacted in 1990, and Iowa's motor vehicle license suspension or revocation for marijuana possession law which was enacted in 1993.

We had hoped to enlist the support of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union (ICLU), whose parent body, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is officially on the record as opposing drug prohibition, but letters to the ICLU regarding medical marijuana legislation were all unanswered.