Cannabis: A greener way forward for Iowa

Gwen Hope unpacks the economic and social possibilities that accompany legalizing cannabis, demystifying the oft-maligned psychoactive plant. -promoted by Laura Belin

Since the middle of the 20th century, cannabis has been a hot button issue, particularly since the Nixon Administration began the War on Drugs. Often political, the criminalization and demonization of the plant and substances derived from it has a complex, but living history in the United States.

A microcosm of the country incarnate, this issue is attached to almost every other issue and stance imaginable: from political party to patriotism, convention to community, race to religion, humanity to harm, morality to medicine, and everything in-between was and is attached to cannabis – the United States’s most popular illicit substance.

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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Beer and baseball

A message for the holiday season from Ed Fallon. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I’ve gotta tell you this crazy dream I had last night about beer and baseball. I was playing major league baseball (yeah, only in my dreams). I came to the plate and struck out four times (ok, that part’s realistic). After my last strikeout, I sauntered out to center field where I was surprised to find my rocking chair. I sat down and prepared to watch the rest of the game.

The other team’s leading slugger stepped up to the plate. Suddenly, the fans rose to their feet while children poured onto the field. Led by a seven-year-old girl standing at the pitcher’s mound, everyone raised a beer to toast the slugger, singing, “We like beer, yes we like our beer.” The girl and other under-age kids raised cans and bottles of soda pop instead.

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Why do I have to choose between opioids and medical cannabis for chronic pain?

Ann Crane (not her real name) is an Iowa woman who has suffered from chronic pain for nearly 18 years. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Around the country, there has been much discussion around the use of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to treat medical conditions. Most states allow the use of medical cannabis, and a few have legalized recreational use of cannabis as well. Under a 2017 Iowa law, cannabidiol with no more than 3 percent THC can be used to treat a small number of “debilitating medical conditions” (recently expanded by one).

I am one of thousands who suffer from “intractable or chronic pain,” one of the qualifying medical conditions in Iowa.

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Why Jerry Foxhoven is wrong about closing Iowa's mental health institutions

Leslie Carpenter is an advocate for improving the treatment of people with serious mental illnesses in Iowa and across the country. -promoted by desmoinesdem

While speaking at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Iowa Annual Conference on November 16, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven advised the attendees that it was a good thing that two of the state’s four in-patient mental health institutions (MHIs) were closed, and that we have moved to community-based care. He further shared that it was a good thing to go from more than 700 beds to the current level of 64 beds for adults in the whole state.

We should recall that this reduction of state-operated acute care beds has caused Iowa to be ranked 51st by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

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