Why I'm asking Iowa to seek an exemption from federal drug laws

Carl Olsen recounts his long battle to reschedule cannabis and the latest legal steps in his effort to reconcile state and federal drug laws. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month, I filed a petition with the Iowa Department of Public Health, asking the agency to start the process of obtaining a federal exemption for Iowa’s medical cannabis law.

I had presented this idea to Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Board in August 2019. The board members unanimously approved the concept and recommended in January 2020 that the legislature protect schools and long-term care facilities, which “are hesitant to allow medical cannabidiol products to be administered and stored at the facilities due to the current scheduling of Cannabis at the federal level.” The board suggested “Developing language to protect these facilities or seeking exemption for Iowa’s program from federal drug laws.”

Instead of adopting my proposal, Republican lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 2589, which instructed the Department of Public Health to “request guarantees” from federal agencies that they would not withhold federal funding from educational or long-term care facilities that allow patients to possess or staff to administer medical cannabidiol.

That approach makes no sense, because it would put Iowa in direct conflict with federal drug law. As I wrote in my petition, “There is no formal process for requesting guarantees from federal agencies not to withhold funding for violation of federal drug laws.”

Here’s why Iowa should take a different path.

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Iowa Republicans may regret blocking statewide absentee ballot mailing

July 6 was the first day Iowans can request an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election. Under normal circumstances, I prefer voting early in person and have encouraged others to do the same. But voting by mail is by far the safest option for 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislators signaled last week they won’t allow Secretary of State Paul Pate to send absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter again.

Election officials in Iowa’s largest counties aren’t waiting to see how things play out. Several auditors are already making plans for their own universal mailings. Higher turnout in those counties should benefit Democratic candidates for federal offices and state legislative seats.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Iowans lose out to industrial ag in 2020 legislative session

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

While coronovirus disrupted the Iowa legislative session this year, it failed to hinder business as usual.

Once again, legislators across the state preferred to serve Big Ag instead of their constituents. It’s hardly a surprise given the hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow into the coffers of our elected officials from Farm Bureau, Bayer-Monsanto and fat cats of the factory farm industry, including the Hansen and Rastetter families. While the needs of everyday Iowans were ignored for yet another year, industrial agribusiness cemented its rule over our state.

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Ashley Hinson dodged Iowa House debates on high-profile bills

State Representative Ashley Hinson didn’t miss a roll call vote as the Iowa House wrapped up its work in June, legislative records show. But the two-term Republican mostly stayed out of the House chamber while colleagues debated controversial bills.

The tactic allowed Hinson, who is also the GOP challenger in Iowa’s first Congressional district, to avoid public questioning about policies she supported. Notably, she was absent during most of the House deliberations on imposing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, establishing a barrier to voting by mail, and giving businesses near-total immunity from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Neither Hinson nor her Congressional campaign responded to Bleeding Heartland’s repeated inquiries about those absences.

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