State Senator says Iowa should regulate marijuana like alcohol

DES MOINES, Iowa- State Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City says he is preparing legislation to end marijuana prohibition in Iowa.

Bolkcom hopes regulating marijuana like alcohol would create new jobs and economic activity in the state of Iowa.

“The 80 million Americans living in the states that already regulate marijuana like alcohol live just like we do here in Iowa,” Bolkcom said.  “The only difference is that adults in those states can legally purchase and consume marijuana, a product that is less addictive and lethal than alcohol.”  

Bolkcom says the issues surrounding regulating marijuana are almost identical to regulating alcohol.

“Like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, using marijuana is harmful to the health of teenagers,” said Bolkcom.  “Teen use of marijuana must be aggressively discouraged and prevented, just as we do now with our anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol campaigns.  My legislation directs that taxes from the sale of legal marijuana will should be used to intensify and improve our anti-smoking and anti-drinking public health campaigns.”

Bolkcom released these 10 reasons for weed legalization

Marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked and hurts taxpayers and everyday Iowans.

Marijuana prohibition is ineffective and expensive. While law enforcement and the court system have done their best to enforce prohibition, prohibition has not made Iowans significantly safer or healthier.

Despite this, Iowa spends millions each year to arrest, prosecute, jail, imprison and punish thousands of nonviolent Iowans for possessing a product that is less toxic, less addictive and less lethal than alcohol. By legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana to Iowa adults, we can refocus our criminal justice system on serious crime and expand substance abuse treatment programs.

 While regulating marijuana will bring its own set of challenges, these challenges are less harmful to Iowans than prohibition.

Iowa’s continued criminalization of marijuana imposes a heavy burden on Iowa families in the form of lost jobs, legal bills, jail time, broken families, violence and crime. Despite this, marijuana remains available to almost anyone that seeks it.

Iowans know that it’s less toxic, less addictive and less lethal than the alcohol available at every Hy‐Vee, Casey’s and Kum and Go. Iowa should not keep spending millions and millions each year to arrest, prosecute, jail and punish thousands of Iowans for possessing a substance less harmful than legal alcohol.

 Marijuana regulation hasn’t led to increased use among teenagers

Like cigarette and alcohol consumption, teen use of marijuana must be aggressively discouraged and prevented.

According to the most comprehensive government surveys in each state, no state that regulates marijuana for adults has seen an overall increase in teen marijuana use. In fact, most of the data indicate a slight decrease in teen use.

 Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society

Adults should not be punished for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol if that is what they prefer.

Researchers have consistently concluded that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol, has less potential for addiction, and is less likely to contribute to serious medical problems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are more than 30,000 alcohol-induced deaths per year, including more than 2,000 from an acute overdose. It reports zero marijuana‐induced deaths each year and there has never been a verified marijuana overdose death.

 Enforcement of marijuana laws is inherently biased by race and income

The enforcement of marijuana prohibition is grossly unequal. Low income and Black Iowans are disproportionally arrested and prosecuted.

Black Iowans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana even though Blacks and Whites both use marijuana at similar rates. A law that is not enforced equally is an unfair law and erodes trust in our justice system.

 Regulating Marijuana Will Undermine the Underground Market

Regulating marijuana like we regulate alcohol will undermine Iowa’s illegal underground market for marijuana. Without state regulation, Iowa’s illegal underground‐market will continue to profitably operate unregulated and untaxed in the shadows.

Regulation means control. Unlike licensed businesses, illegal sellers operate anywhere and sell to minors. Their product is not tested for purity, potency, or contamination. In addition, illegal sellers often also sell drugs that are much more addictive and harmful. Regulating the marijuana market is objectively safer and less harmful than allowing the illegal market to be unchallenged.

 Ten states now regulate marijuana like alcohol

Ten states, the home to 80 million Americans now regulate the use of marijuana by adults (21 years of age). Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia now regulate adult use of marijuana.

 Regulated marijuana is coming to the Midwest

In November, voters in Michigan approved regulated marijuana use for adults. The newly elected Governors of both Minnesota and Illinois are calling on their states to follow suit. Illinois is likely to replace marijuana prohibition with marijuana regulation by the summer of 2020.

 Regulating Marijuana will create new Iowa businesses, jobs, and tax revenue

Regulating marijuana in Iowa will create new businesses and an estimated 4,000‐7,000 new Iowa jobs across the state. In addition, estimates are that Iowa’s state and local governments would gain between $40 to $70 million each year in new revenue.

 Sixtytwo percent of Americans support regulating marijuana like alcohol, according to the Pew Research Center.

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