Three Iowa Democrats layout blueprint to treat marijuana like alcohol

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 11:26 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Three Iowa legislators revealed more details on their proposed amendment to legalize marijuana at a press conference on Wednesday.

The state senators call for The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. If successful, Iowa would join Illinois and 18 other states in legalizing recreational marijuana.

The amendment would legalize the growing, selling and buying of all marijuana products for recreational use.

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.”

It would need to pass in both the state house and senate in two consecutive General Assemblies to get on a ballot. Once on the ballot more than half of Iowans would need to vote for the amendment for it to become a law.

The plan allows the state to tax sales up to 20%, and cities or counties up to 2%.

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

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

Joe Bolkcom, D- Iowa City, said there’s still work to do before that point.

“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.”

It will be an uphill battle for the amendment. Currently, Republicans hold a majority in both chambers. Neither Sens. Roby Smith from Davenport nor Mark Lofgren from Muscatine responded to TV6 News’ request for comment

The Chair of the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee spoke out about the amendment in a statement.

“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. 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.”

Brad Zaun, R- Urbandale

The Iowa General Assembly convenes for its 2022 session on Jan. 10.

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