Legalizing Marijuana in Iowa

In 2021, 16/50 states have legalized marijuana but Iowa is not one of them. Liberty students and teachers share their opinions on this continuing issue.


Danny Kresnyak

“Vancouver Global Marijuana March 2015 – by Danny Kresnyak” by Cannabis Culture is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Cannabis, or marijuana, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. When marijuana is consumed or smoked, THC and other chemicals in the plant get into the bloodstream, which carries them throughout the body to the brain. This creates a ¨high¨ or a variety of feelings and effects. As of 2021, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use. As support grows for legalization, some Iowa residents within Liberty wonder if it will ever be legalized here.

“Wild marijuana plant, Tadapani” by Dey is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Iowa’s Marijuana History

Iowa prohibited cannabis back in 1923 but in May of 2014, Governor Terry Branstad signed the Medical Cannabidiol Act into law. This allowed possession of CBD oil with a neurologist’s recommendation for the treatment of intractable epilepsy in children. On June 29, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds approved House File 2589. This was an update to the existing law regarding the Medical Cannabidiol Act. This included, but is not limited to further additions to the list of conditions for patients to qualify for medical cannabis as well as a change to the maximum amount of THC which may be given to patients in a 90 day period. In 2021, CBD oil with less than 3% THC is legal for patients with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, and others.
The Des Moines Register did a poll in March of 2021 and it showed that 54% of Iowa adults say they favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use, 39% oppose it and 6% are unsure. These numbers have drastically changed since 2013 when just 29% of Iowa adults said they favored the idea, 68% opposed it and 3% were unsure. Among adults under 35, 71% support legalization for recreational use, compared to 56% of those aged 35-54 and 40% of those 55 or older.

Liberty Community Opinions

Liberty junior, Deucalion Martin, shared his support for legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana.
¨I think it should be legalized because studies show it is safer than alcohol or tobacco, yet those are legal. All the points brought up on why it shouldn’t be legalized such as [an] increase in violent crimes and more traffic incidents, have been disproven by states where it is fully legal.

I think it should be legalized because studies show it is safer than alcohol or tobacco, yet those are legal. All the points brought up on why it shouldn’t be legalized such as [an] increase in violent crimes and more traffic incidents, have been disproven by states where it is fully legal.”

— Deuce Martin

I think it should be legalized because studies show it is safer than alcohol or tobacco, yet those are legal. All the points brought up on why it shouldn’t be legalized such as [an] increase in violent crimes and more traffic incidents, have been disproven by states where it is fully legal.[/pullquote] I support the use of medicinal marijuana because I have many friends and family who use it for reasons, such as regaining appetite after numerous rounds of chemotherapy or to ease the pain of such ailments like multiple sclerosis, alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and crohn’s disease. I don’t see any reason that we easily give people opioids, but cannabis seems to be an incredibly hot topic with health.¨
While many students support it, others believe the current laws should remain in place. On an Instagram poll conducted by the Live Wire staff, 110 people said they believe marijuana should be legalized while 11 people said it shouldn’t. Out of those 11 people, only that responded “no” to the legalization of marijuana, only one response was from a Liberty student who voted against it.
Elijah Terwilleger, junior, explained why he doesn’t support the legalization.
“I don’t think marijuana should be legalized for recreational use because [I believe] it is a gateway drug and a very addictive substance, especially for younger generations. If it’s legal, more people will be encouraged to use it,” Terwilleger said, ¨My thoughts in the legalization process are that the power of legalization should be determined by the states because I believe in less power to the federal government and more to the states.¨
As stated above, younger people are more in favor of introducing cannabis for recreational use in Iowa.
History teacher Stacey Strief shares her opinions on legalizing marijuana.
¨I honestly do not know enough about the legalization of marijuana for recreational use to choose a side at this point. I do feel the need to educate myself more on this topic in order to formulate an opinion. I do know public opinion for the legalization of marijuana has increased more recently due to legislation being passed in other states. Iowa more recently passed legislation that would allow the use of CBD and THC products for medical use. I support any product that alleviates the pain and suffering of patients who are ill as long as a medical provider oversees the usage/dosage of such medication,¨ she said.
While some still have reservations on legalizing marijuana, moving in this direction could have many benefits for Iowa and Iowans. In 2019, Colorado collected more than $302 million in taxes and fees on medical and recreational marijuana. In state sales totaled over $1.7 billion. Sales in the U.S were $12.2 billion in 2019 and projected to increase to $31.1 billion by 2024, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. A report from a cannabis analytics company called New Frontier suggested that federally legal cannabis could generate an additional $105.6 billion in aggregate federal tax revenue by 2025. In Colorado, 10% goes to local governments, 90% goes to the state government, 15.56% of the state revenue goes to the general fund, 12.59% goes to the state public school fund and 71.85% goes to the marijuana tax cash fund.
An RCG Economics and Marijuana Policy Group study on Nevada says that legalizing recreational marijuana in the state could support over 41,000 jobs till 2024 and generate over $1.7 billion in income labor. An ICF study estimates at least 81,000 additional direct, indirect, and induced jobs in California as a result of legalized marijuana sales. It also projected an increase in total labor income by $3.5 billion.
Martin also shared what he thinks some advantages and disadvantages are of making it fully legal in Iowa.
¨Some benefits would be a greater tax yield for states and our country as a whole. It would create more jobs and allow people to get them as well as people not being imprisoned for use or possession of this harmless drug. It would benefit the well being of everyone. It would allow parents to introduce it to children in a safe and responsible environment. Some disadvantages are negative side effects that are available to more people with some genetic disorders like psychosis and schizophrenia,¨ said Martin.
Strief also mentioned economic benefits while discussing advantages of legalization.
¨While my knowledge regarding the legalization of marijuana is somewhat limited, I do know there are pros regarding the economic and medical benefits. There are tax benefits as well as job opportunities associated with the harvesting, production and sale of marijuana. I think there are disadvantages to legalizing marijuana just as there are disadvantages to legalizing alcohol or cigarettes. Marijuana is a drug that can alter your state of being (like alcohol or cigarettes). The federal government must determine the benefits of legalizing marijuana before ultimately making a decision.¨
The 20th and 21st century have brought change and awareness to issues all over the world. As we continue to grow and change, people’s ideology changes as well. Marijuana use has always been a heavily debated topic for people who support it and are against it. As more states continue to legalize cannabis, we can’t help but wonder how long and what it will take for it to be legalized across the United States.