Bradley Knott: The Campaign for Sensible Cannabis Laws is giving a Iowans a voice and showing elected officials that voters support reforming Iowa’s cannabis laws.
Cannabis reform is sweeping the country. From ruby red South Dakota and Montana to perpetually blue New York and New Jersey, majorities from across the political spectrum are voting for reform. In some states it’s a stronger medical program. In other states voters have gone all in for both medical and recreational cannabis.
In Iowa, we don’t have a choice. We don’t even have a voice.
When Democratic State Senators Joe Bolkcom, Janet Petersen, and Sarah Trone Garriott introduced a bill to give Iowans a voice, GOP leadership told them it was D-O-A – dead on arrival.
It does to me. That’s why Pete D’Alessandro and I launched the Campaign for Sensible Cannabis Laws (FreetheweedIOWA.org). This campaign is giving Iowans a voice on cannabis reform. And when Iowans are heard, we think they will support cannabis reform – because they do already!
An Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom found last year:
- Nearly eight in ten Iowans support a stronger medical cannabis program.
- 71 percent of all Iowans under age 35, urban and rural, support legalizing recreational marijuana.
- The same poll showed 56 percent of Iowans between 35 and 54 years old supporting reform.
Iowans are sensible people. They are proud of their state and have compassion toward others in need. And Iowa’s current cannabis laws make no sense.
They make no sense if you want to capture lost tax dollars going to Illinois and Colorado. Or you want to build on and diversify Iowa’s excellence in agriculture, or stop the brain drain and keep the young folks here.
Iowa’s cannabis laws make no sense if you want to help people who suffer from, or care for someone with, chronic pain, autism, cancer, or seizures.
They make no sense if you believe in equal treatment or wise use of public safety dollars and keeping nonviolent offenders from crowding jails.
Across the country, state tax revenues on cannabis are booming ($10 billion last year, according to one study). That money can fund education, health care, and other critical needs. The Motley Fool website estimated that reform could generate $50 million a year for Iowa.
In 2019, more than 5,000 Iowans were convicted of possession. Their families have suffered irreparable economic and social harm from a simple possession of a plant that is legal a few miles away. For too many, it has paved the way for a lifetime of economic insecurity.
As taxpayers, Iowans pay twice for this failed policy. First, we pay the enormous financial tab to police and incarcerate. And then we pay the cost of the social safety net to support thousands of families dealing with the economic turmoil resulting from a criminal record.
While Iowa faces a persistent workforce shortage, marijuana—a substance far safer than alcohol, nicotine, and many over the counter drugs—remains on employer screenings, eliminating thousands of workers from consideration and leaving Iowa employers unable the help they need.
These are solid compelling arguments. Yet they are not being heard. Until now
The Campaign for Sensible Cannabis Laws (@freetheweediowa.org) is giving a Iowans their voice and showing elected officials that voters support reforming Iowa’s cannabis laws.
It is a nonpartisan effort for reform based on fairness, financial prudence, and common sense. The campaign will emphasize Iowans’ health, our state’s excellence in agriculture, the need for diversification, and an opportunity to capture revenue lost to neighboring states.
Campaign for Sensible Cannabis Laws is asking all sensible Iowans—from taxpayers to business owners, law enforcement, retirees to political progressives, libertarians, and compassionate Christians—to join the cause. Together, we can educate Iowans, bring our state into the mainstream on cannabis, and end the toxic, outdated culture-war attempt that is holding back reform.
With your help, the Campaign for Sensible Cannabis laws will show our elected officials that they have the voter’s support they need to give Iowans the reforms they want, need, and deserve.
Go to freetheweediowa.org to make your voice heard:
- Sign the petition
- Contribute to the campaign – this is purely a grassroots effort.
- Share the site with friends and neighbors in person and on your social platforms
- Talk to your elected officials.
Bradley Knott and Pete D’Alessandro are veteran Iowa political consultants.