Current Events, Politics

Legislative Session Underway: Top Cannabis Stories Around the State

I haven’t posted in over a week now as I’ve been spending most of my time on the phone or computer talking with people. This activism thing is a full time job these days, with no pay, little to no thanks, and a lot of headaches.

I love this job.

Here’s some of my favorite news articles about cannabis from around the state over the past week or so:

1. Des Moines Register: Letter to the editor: About medical marijuana, I want to keep my girl alive:

Rachel Selmiski is one of many, many mothers from Iowa who have recently discovered cannabis’ ability to treat epilepsy. Here’s her letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register last Tuesday:

“I am the mother of an adorable 19-month-old girl who struggles with uncontrolled seizures, primarily Infantile Spasms. These generalized seizures, along with the side effects of the failed anti-epileptic medications have caused gross developmental delays as well as other troublesome medical issues. At any point, these uncontrolled seizures could end her life. (You can read more about this at http://www.miracle4maggie.com.)

One legislator in particular is a major opponent of medical marijuana. After speaking with Rep. Clel Baudler and requesting a meeting with him, he told me there was absolutely no way he could meet with me. He then hung up on me.” — Rachel Selmeski Read full letter to the editor here

2. Greg Hauenstein: My Hopes For The Legislative Session:

Gregory Hauenstein: "Yes, I support full legalization, but I’ll take the half step of medical if it means people like my wife who suffer from chronic pain or cancer patients can have access to effective medication that doesn’t a) cost an arm and a leg and b) have lists of side effects longer than my arm. I’d celebrate if the Iowa Legislature debated this issue in an adult manner."

Gregory Hauenstein: “Yes, I support full legalization, but I’ll take the half step of medical if it means people like my wife who suffer from chronic pain or cancer patients can have access to effective medication that doesn’t a) cost an arm and a leg and b) have lists of side effects longer than my arm.
I’d celebrate if the Iowa Legislature debated this issue in an adult manner.”


Greg Hauenstein has worked for the 2008 Obama campaign as well as the Iowa Democratic Party. A former legislative assistant to Tyler Olsen, Hauenstein wrote an excellent article last January about Branstad’s view on medical cannabis.

Yesterday he put this post out:

“As long as Governor Branstad remains in office there’s no chance Iowans will be able to have access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. Yes, I support full legalization, but I’ll take the half step of medical if it means people like my wife who suffer from chronic pain or cancer patients can have access to effective medication that doesn’t a) cost an arm and a leg and b) have lists of side effects longer than my arm.

I’d celebrate if the Iowa Legislature debated this issue in an adult manner. My Republican State Representative and State Senator have both told me they support medical marijuana. It’s time to start talking.” —Full article available here

3. Des Moines Register: No legal pot in 2014 session, say Branstad and key Iowa lawmakers:

“Branstad, a Republican, told reporters he just talked with a leader of Ducks Unlimited from Colorado who described that state’s decision to proceed with legalized marijuana as a “complete disaster.” He also said he’s been told the situation will cause problems for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who signed several bills to establish a legal pot market for adults.

“No, I don’t want to embark on an experiment like that. I think would be damning to the health and welfare of the citizens of our state,” Branstad said.

Iowa’s governor also said he won’t reverse his stance against medical marijuana, describing it as something that would lead to a transition to more widespread use of marijuana.” —Full article available here

See also: Misinformed Terry Branstad on Medical Marijuana: “It came up before the Iowa Board of Pharmacy. They didn’t take a position.”

4. Press-Citizen.com: County Wants Marijuana Reform:

“The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is hoping state legislators consider reform that would bring Iowa closer to the legalization of marijuana.

The board has requested in its 2014 legislative priorities list that state legislation consider several marijuana/hemp reforms during this coming general assembly.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan initially proposed a complete decriminalization of marijuana but the proposal was scaled back because of a lack of board support.

“It’s not that I’m in favor of people going out and smoking pot,” Sullivan said. “It’s just recognizing the reality that it’s out there and our prohibition of it has not worked.” —Full Press-Citizen.com article here

5. Rekha Basu: Pot and Morality Issues Going Up In Smoke:

Jim Morin/Miami Herald

Jim Morin/Miami Herald

“The suggestion that potheads are sluggish and unmotivated would make a good argument for not smoking it during the workday or while studying. But drinking during those times can do a number on your productivity, too. Being stoned, at its worst, might cause someone to drive really slowly, but it doesn’t kill people the way drunken driving does. Isn’t that more of a moral issue?

Some Republicans, however, are shedding the moral arguments against pot and coming down on the libertarian side, citing the expense of the drug war, among other things. It’s estimated that legalization would save $10 billion a year on enforcement.

Some soul searching is already going on in Iowa’s Republican Party about whether, as a pre-caucus mailing this week asks, it should remain “the party of freedom, traditional values and low taxes.” For some Republicans, when it comes to marijuana and other social issues, freedom and “traditional values” may be at odds these days.” —Read full article in Des Moines Register here

5. Press-Citizen.com: County attorney candidate to nip marijuana prosecutions in the bud?:

John Zimmerman, 2014 candidate for Johnson County Attorney.

John Zimmerman, 2014 candidate for Johnson County Attorney.

“Vowing to end the prosecution of marijuana use and curb racial profiling, a former pastor officially announced his candidacy for Johnson County attorney Wednesday, setting up the first contested Democratic primary for the seat since 2006.

“The policies of the current county attorney fall especially hard on folks who are poor and people of color,” said Zimmerman, 45, who graduated from law school at the University of Iowa last month. “The current policies result in the over-prosecution of students, and folks whose problems with the law stem especially from untreated mental illnesses and from untreated substance abuse problems.” — Full article here

More politicians will be running on this issue in coming years. “Marijuana” is going mainstream.

6. Business Insider: CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico’s Most Notorious Drug Cartel:

I was tipped off to this story a while back before anyone in the US was publicizing it. Today, I woke up to find this story on CNN. While this doesn’t exclusively deal with Iowa news, I’m very glad to see the realities of prohibition coming to light for
everyone to see.

From the article:

“An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.

Sinaloa, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.

There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” coordinates with American authorities.

But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.” —Read full article here

Follow WeedPress on Facebook for more. Upcoming stories include details of new bills on medical cannabis for the 2014 Iowa Legislative session, the history of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy hearings on medical cannabis, a Minnesota man’s confiscated cannabis pipe being returned to him by the police, and more anonymous patient testimonials from Iowans around the state.

Thanks for reading and sharing!

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