What a difference a month makes. Four weeks ago, State Senator Joe Bolkcom declared his bill to legalize the medical use of cannabis dead on the same day he introduced it. Now five Republican senators have joined Bolkcom and four other Iowa Senate Democrats seeking to advance the conversation about medical marijuana before next year's legislative session.
Click here to read the full text of Senate Resolution 112, which requests the creation of an interim study committee "to make recommendations on the feasibility of establishing a medical cannabis program in this state allowing qualifying resident patients to purchase and possess cannabis for medical purposes, and to file a final report including recommendations with the general assembly by December 30, 2014." If the Senate approves the resolution, the Iowa Legislative Council led by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will likely approve a study committee to evaluate medical marijuana later this year.
Depending on the study committee's conclusions, a medical marijuana bill might garner more bipartisan support during the 2015 legislative session. Kudos to Democrats Bolkcom, Matt McCoy, Bill Dotzler, Jack Hatch, and Tom Courtney, and Republicans Ken Rozenboom, Mike Breitbach, Brad Zaun, Amy Sinclair, and Charles Schneider for supporting this resolution. It's worth noting that all five Republican co-sponsors were elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 and therefore will not face re-election again until 2016. Consequently, all five will be serving in the Iowa Senate next year, regardless of which party controls the chamber after the 2014 elections.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hatch has long been on record supporting medical marijuana in Iowa. Earlier this month, Governor Terry Branstad warned of "unintended consequences" and said much more study of the issue is needed.
UPDATE: I should have mentioned that while Zaun isn't up for re-election to the state Senate this year, he is one of six GOP candidates running in Iowa's third Congressional district. I wonder whether any of his rivals in IA-03 will criticize this stance.