DES MOINES, Iowa. (Apr. 19, 2017) – On Monday, the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana by a resounding margin. Passage of this bill would set the foundation to nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition on cannabis in effect.
Senate Bill 506 (SF506) was introduced by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would expand existing laws on the books relating to cannabis oil and broaden them to encompass medical marijuana in all of its forms.
The Senate passed SF506 by a 45-5 vote.
Bill supporter Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) said in a Facebook video, “Hopefully, [we] will end the suffering for thousands of Iowans who suffer from a whole host of debilitating conditions… We are very optimistic that we are going to adjourn here with a good bill being passed.”
Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one or more of 21 different ailments defined in the bill.
Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under SF506. This would give another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries would be permitted to operate as well, provided they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SF506 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits cannabis in all forms. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Iowa would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Iowa sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Iowa could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in those states last November.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
SF506 will need to pass the House Ways and Means Committee before it can be considered by the full House.