On February 21st, Democratic representatives in the Iowa House of Representatives introduced legislation that would permit adult users of marijuana for recreational purposes. The proposed legislation would make it legal for people 21 and older with valid identification to possess cannabis with up to 500 milligrams of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The bill, which has not yet been officially introduced in the House, also creates a tax on legally permitted marijuana sales and paves the way for regulated commercial cannabis sales.
“We’ve listened to Iowans and heard from people of all parties in all corners of the state who strongly believe it’s time to legalize marijuana. This common-sense bill we’re introducing today isn’t about politics, it’s about people,” said House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst. “Our bill is an opportunity this session to put partisanship aside and work together to get something done that a majority of Iowans want.”
Reduction of penalties for cannabis possession:
The measure also redesignates possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana as a civil offense, eliminating the associated criminal penalties. The law also expunges criminal records for nonviolent marijuana possession offenses and downgrades other possession-related charges from felonies to misdemeanors.
The law gives the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division control over the commercial cannabis sector and permits regulated businesses to produce and distribute marijuana through authorized dispensaries. To track regulated cannabis products and aid in preventing their diversion to the black market, the division is also mandated by the law to adopt a seed-to-sale tracking system.
The Democrats’ proposal to legalize marijuana imposes a 10% tax on commercial cannabis goods, with the proceeds going to local public safety organizations, schools, and mental health services. County governments would also be allowed to add a 1% surcharge to state and municipal taxes.
According to Konfrst, legalizing marijuana in Iowa would prevent marijuana tax money from being sent to nearby states that have legalized the drug. Michigan and Illinois both permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
What would be the Amendments to Cannabis possession penalties?
- All penalties for crimes involving the possession, distribution, and production of marijuana would be eliminated under House File 751. Additionally, it permits the erasure of prior marijuana possession and distribution crimes.
- Senate File 83 would eliminate all penalties for marijuana possession up to an ounce and apply a $100 civil fine for possession of up to four ounces.
- Separately, House File 163would decriminalize the possession of up to 42.5 grams of marijuana, imposing a civil fine of $25.
Additionally, the law reduces or eliminates penalties for those found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana with the intent to deliver, eliminates penalties for those under the age of 21, and permits those with certain prior possession convictions to petition the court for expungement after two years.
- House Bill 648 would eliminate the possibility of jail time for marijuana possession. It also reduces the penalty for possessing up to 42.5 grams of marijuana with the intent to distribute from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- Previously, SSB 1226 (now SF 533) would have changed the first-time penalty for possession of up to five grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $855.
- Minor cannabis possession would be decriminalized under House File 2241. Personal possession of less than 42 and a half grams of cannabis and related paraphernalia will be classified as a civil offense with a maximum fine of $25, rather than a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
What does the population of Iowa think about the legalization of Iowa?
The House Democratic Leader observed that Iowans are overwhelmingly in favour of legalizing marijuana. 54% of adults who participated in a 2021 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll said they were in support of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
It cuts across political lines, Konfrst said. It is present in all areas of the province, including rural, urban, and suburban areas. And the moment has come to act.
It’s time to decriminalize marijuana for adult use, according to Iowans and nearby states that have already done so, according to House Minority Whip Rep. Lindsay James of Dubuque. “The comprehensive measure we are proposing today will improve the quality of life for Iowans with chronic illnesses, keep Iowans safe, and stop our tax dollars from going to neighboring states by punishing Iowa citizens.”
When can we expect the Iowa cannabis legalization bill to be approved?
Despite the fact that most Iowans favour legalizing marijuana, the state’s Republican-led assembly is not likely to pass the measure. GOP party leaders stated last month that they do not anticipate marijuana legalization legislation to progress this year.
“I think there needs to be a deterrent in the law, but I understand the logic of having discussions about what the appropriate penalties should be and that sort of thing,” Republican Rep. Steven Holt, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said last year. “But in terms of making marijuana legal, that is something I would never support.”
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