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Iowa Democrats Reveal Marijuana Legalization Plan

“Let’s give Iowans the freedom to vote on this issue,” said state Sen. Janet Petersen of the adult-use proposal


Three Iowa state senators revealed details of their proposed amendment to legalize marijuana at a Wednesday press conference, reports KCRG.

The lawmakers called for the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to regulate Cannabis sales to adults 21 and older. If successful, Iowa would join 19 other states in legalizing adult-use marijuana.

The amendment would legalize growing, selling and buying of all marijuana products for adults 21 and older.

The plan allows the state to tax sales up to 20 percent. Cities or counties can add on their own taxes, up to 2%.

It would need to pass in both the Iowa House and Senate in two consecutive General Assemblies to get on a ballot. Once on the ballot, a majority of Iowans would need to vote for the amendment for it to become law.

“Let’s Give Iowans The Freedom To Vote On This Issue”

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said it’s time to let Iowans decide.

“We’ve chosen to move forward with a constitutional amendment,” Petersen said. “That takes the conversation to the people of Iowa. Constitutional amendments do not need to go to the governor for her approval.”

“Iowa’s outdated, old-school drug policies are failing Iowans in rural parts of the state and urban areas as well,” Sen. Petersen said. “It’s time to move forward with better drug policies that uplift Iowans instead of criminalizing them.”

“Republicans have said time after time during Constitutional Amendment debates that they trust the voters to decide. We believe it is time to trust Iowa voters,” Petersen said. “Let’s give Iowans the freedom to vote on this issue.”

Petersen said she encourages Iowans to contact their representatives in the Legislature and ask them to support the legalization proposal.

“We’re Missing Out”

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-Windsor Heights, said it’s time for Iowa to cash in like other green states.

“We know that marijuana is easily accessible for adult use in neighboring states,” Trone Garriott said. “We get none of the benefits.

“We’re missing out on new significant tax revenue, tax dollars that we could put to work in our state,” she said.

No Plan For Expungement… Yet

The senators, unfortunately, did not lay out a plan to give a break to those with prior or current marijuana convictions.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, acknowledged there’s still work to do on that.

“We’ve seen states enact federal or state laws to go back and erase people’s marijuana records,” Bolkcom said. “We’d love to … be in a position to move legislation to do that.”

No Republican Support

“If Republicans won’t listen, it’s time for Iowa voters to have a direct voice in creating a new system that regulates marijuana like alcohol for adult use,” Sen. Bolkcom said, reports KCCI.

Bolkcom said the amendment had no Republican support.

“In the coming weeks, we will be searching for a few brave Republicans to join us in this bipartisan effort,” he said. 

If all Democrats supported the measure, they would still need support from 11 Republicans in the House and seven in the Senate to reach a majority. 

GOP Promises To Sh*tcan Anything Resembling Progress

That is why, dear reader, we must now perform a reality check. It will, in the GOP-controlled Iowa Legislature, be a steep uphill battle for the amendment. Conservative Republicans hold a majority in both chambers.

And Chair Brad Zaun of the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee had some choice words about the amendment. Of course, he’s gonna shitcan the thing. We’ll just let that particularly obnoxious, proudly ignorant blowhard speak for himself.

“Gimmicks like a constitutional amendment on recreational marijuana do a better job of illustrating the lack of ideas Senate Democrats have to solve the problems of Iowans than any response I have,” Zaun said. “We will continue cutting taxes, supporting law enforcement, and empowering parents in their children’s education.

“I have no intentions of advancing this bill out of the Judiciary Committee,” he said haughtily.

Majority Of Iowa Voters Support Legalization

“Iowa is losing jobs and revenue to other states that have moved ahead with mainstream marijuana reform,” Sen. Bolkcom said during a press conference on Wednesday, reports the Daily Iowan. “Iowans want those jobs and economic development from regulating marijuana like alcohol, especially jobs that it will bring to rural Iowa.”

In the most recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll in March 2021, 54 percent of Iowans surveyed said they supported legalizing adult-use Cannabis.

The full text of the proposed amendment can be found here.

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