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Marijuana for Iowa?

A recent editorial in the Daily Iowan argues the case for Iowa adopting a medical marijuana law but expresses some doubt that it will happen any time soon. And, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, attempts to pass legislation in our state legislature have been put off for another session – a case of “not ready yet.”

Still the paper cites polling data showing support among Iowans for legalization for medical purposes. One poll with a thousand respondents (the University of Iowa Hawkeye poll) showed almost 60 percent support. Opinions varied a bit by age, with more support in younger people. Similarly, when asked if they had tried marijuana, the percentages fell from about 50% for those under 34, falling off to a low of just 11.5 percent for those 70 and older.

Just as interesting as the article were the comments posted.
”Congrats Hawkeyes, you're on the right path. Keep in mind, the prohibitionists are losing and when they realize that they aren't winning they become obstructionists. Nitpicking overregulation and continuing denial of the established facts are their favorite ploys.”

Translating these poll numbers into viable legislation is a serious hurdle however. It’s one thing to support medical marijuana on a poll when asked, quite another to actively push your state legislator to draft and pass a bill allowing it. The safest course for a conservative legislator, interested in getting reelected, is to just sit back and remain silent on the issue. After all, why stir up controversy unless the electorate is demanding action?

So long as marijuana remains illegal for all uses at the federal level, Iowans should not expect to see medical marijuana here, at least not any time soon. We do not have a mechanism to put a medical marijuana on the ballot, so the poll numbers simply don’t have any force.


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