An Iowa state senator plan to introduce medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization bills when the Iowa legislature convenes on Wednesday, even though both have a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of passing.
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City says both bills are needed, but nobody else seems to agree. That includes Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad who has been outspoken in his opposition to legalization in the past.
According to The (eastern Iowa) Gazette, there’s not much interest in the issue in Iowa from the legislature or from Iowans themselves.
“The pressure comes from national groups,” Lloyd Jessen, executive director of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, told The Gazette. “We don’t hear from the public at large, we’re not hearing from patients and doctors or anybody.”
Jessen clearly isn’t listening then, because there’s Iowans begging for a change in laws. Like 47-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient Benton Mackenzie who was arrested with 71 plants and faces criminal cultivation charges for making medicine. Not only that, but Mackenzie’s wife, son and retired parents also face charges for allegedly helping out with the cultivation.
“I feel like nobody really gives a damn, except my family,” Mackenzie told the Des Moines Register yesterday. “And now they’re in trouble for not kicking me to the street to die.”
Mackenzie was in jail for more than a month before prosecutors in the case asked for his release so the county wouldn’t have to pay for any cancer treatments. He says he wanted to move to a medical marijuana state, but couldn’t because he was on probation in Iowa.
So yes, patients do need the help of the legislature in Iowa. Unfortunately, their track record when it comes to cannabis is pretty bad. For example, in 2010 the Iowa Board of Pharmacy unanimously voted to change marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule II – allowing it for some limited medical applications. But the legislature never did anything about it. Not that Jessen and the rest of the Board of Pharmacy are going to do anything about it.
“It’s a complicated issue,” he told the Gazette.
No, it’s pretty simple. Allow people like Mackenzie to use the cannabis that suits him best as a treatment.