Three Iowa Senators Aim to Legalize Recreational Cannabis


These Iowa senators would like to see recreational cannabis pass in 2022, but will the rest of the state government let it happen?

A trio of Democratic lawmakers in Iowa want to bring cannabis legalization to the ballot. 

The idea comes via three state senators, Joe Bolkcom, Janet Petersen and Sarah Trone Garriott, who said at a press conference on Tuesday that they intend to push a constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational pot use for adults aged 21 and older. 

“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure,” said Bolkcom, who represents Iowa City (home to the University of Iowa), as quoted by local television station KWQC. “It’s ending across America because it has caused far more harm than good.”


Farmer offers pick-your-own hemp

hemp field

This harvest season, pumpkins and apples aren’t the only autumn commodities available to pick yourself in Johnson County.

Now in rural Oxford, pick-your-own hemp is available — at least for a couple weekends — at one of Iowa’s hemp farms. On Sept. 18 and 19, hundreds of visitors flocked to Carriage House Hemp Farm, where hemp farmer Mark Wright helped them clip and bag the right flower buds to take home. Another pick-your-own weekend was also planned recently.

So, why not let them pick it, he asked himself.


It’s time to legalize recreational marijuana in Iowa and nationally

bong with cannabis bud

Iowa should legalize recreational marijuana, and the federal government should eliminate barriers to marijuana recreational use as determined by the states. I am not advocating marijuana use any more than I advocated tobacco use in 2000 when I introduced in Congress a bipartisan bill to allow tobacco regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. That bill served as a guide for FDA regulation of tobacco.

There are many things to consider: health concerns, substance abuse, crime, road safety, economic outcomes, and budget impacts, among others.


History’s lost cash crop: The state of hemp in Iowa

marijuana leaf on money

As a close cousin to marijuana, hemp was swiftly and severely regulated and restricted with the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. A part of Nixon’s “War on Drugs,” it placed cannabinoids like marijuana and hemp in the most dangerous category: “Schedule 1,” the most addictive substances with the least evidence of health benefits. That’s right alongside heroin, and above cocaine and meth.

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but they are classified differently based on one important chemical—THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the intoxicating compound in cannabis that causes a high when introduced to the body. Hemp contains 0.3% or less of this chemical, making it non-intoxicating. Marijuana, however, can contain up to 30%. 


Why does cannabis smell like skunk? This Iowa State professor has answers.

Iowa State professor Jacek Koziel's exposure to research on the smell of marijuana happened while assisting a former Ph.D. student with her mapping of the substance's compounds.

Koziel remembers thinking "Oh yea, this is intense," as he saw three large canvas bags of police-confiscated marijuana, donated to their research at the State Forensics Laboratory in Ankeny. The student, Somchai Rice, now an Iowa State researcher, delved into similar projects with heroin and cocaine, creating an extensive library of compounds in the substances.


Iowa Poll: Majority of Iowans polled are in favor of legalizing marijuana

marijuana plants


A recent Iowa Poll reports a majority of Iowans who would be in favor of legalizing marijuana.


Bill could reduce penalties for first-time marijuana offenders in Iowa

A bill in the Iowa Senate that would loosen Iowa’s marijuana penalties has bipartisan support from lawmakers.

SF 533 would lower the legal penalty for first time offenders possessing less than five grams of marijuana in Iowa to a simple misdemeanor, translating to a maximum sentence of 30 days in prison and a fine between $105 – $855. Current state laws could result in up to six months of imprisonment and $1,000 in fines.

The bill has received bipartisan support and was originally introduced by Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale. It was unanimously passed in a Senate Committee on March 3, meaning the bill can be called for a full vote on the Senate floor.


It's high time that Iowa legalize recreational marijuana

hand holding up a cannabis roll

Marijuana should be legalized for recreational purposes in Iowa among adults.

The illegal cannabis market in this country is estimated to total about $50 billion a year (National Affairs, 2020). A legal product could help eliminate that dangerous illegal market with legitimate access and the stabilization of appropriate chemical composition.


Illinois, Iowa farmers betting on the future of hemp

marijuana plants

Students at Muscatine Community College had their crop delayed.

It wasn’t rain, but a campus shutdown of one week because of COVID-19 that caused a delay planting their hemp crop. The difference in the weather in that lost week will likely affect the crop’s yield.

“That just teaches the students why timing is so critical, and they’ll know that on the first day of class they’ve got to start everything,” said Shane Mairet, the college's industrial hemp instructor.


Heartbreak For Some Iowa Hemp Farmers

Marijuana leaves

Regulatory hurdles, backbreaking work and an uncertain market. Top that off with then having your crop destroyed and it was a really crappy season for some hemp farmers in the US state of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reported last week reported approximately 13% of Iowa farmers’ hemp crops had to be fully or partially destroyed because the plants were “hot” – THC levels exceeded 0.3%, the maximum level permitted under state and federal laws.


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