Iowa Attempts to Do Medical Marijuana the Right Way


Like it or not, it seems like the nation is moving toward legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. A problem in Colorado highlights a different method being used in Iowa.

When medical marijuana is legalized by popular vote, it almost always turns into a mess. Propositions on ballots simply don't have enough detailed thought in them to make practical laws. Several states have legalized medical marijuana through popular vote with no provisions for patients to purchase the drug -- Michigan comes to mind. In other words, the legalization precedes the proper regulations.

In Colorado, medical marijuana laws passed, but then, local communities got a chance to weigh in and nix dispensaries in their city. A string of actions at the city council level (Delta City and Orchard City, CO are recent examples) essentially make a statewide legal activity into an illegal activity in their towns. Another mess.

What Iowa is doing differently (where 62% of the population supports legalization) is to put the matter before the legislature instead of on the ballot. This has one great advantage -- a chance to argue out the nuances and establish a workable system. Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen, but a law as important as how to regulate marijuana so it stays in the medical realm should get more attention than we've seen from states up till this point.

Iowa does have the advantage of seeing how nuts legalization can be when it is improperly handled. Everything from the explosion of mobile weed clinics in California to the 3,000% increase in medical marijuana card holders in Hawaii.

By clearly seeing the need for legislation, it may be possible to head off a ballot proposal this fall. Issues about diagnoses, permissible amounts, taxes, supply and a host of other details can be sorted out. Does it make sense that citizens should be able to grow their own supply – a supply that isn’t standardized as to THC content and has the risk of theft or diversion attached?


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