The Senate Finally Goes to Pot
SENATE FINALLY GOES TO POT
by Todd Dorman, for "The Gazette"
Did you get a load of that Quinnipiac Poll out this week showing 87 percent of Iowans favor legalizing marijuana for medical use? 87-11. We’re talking a Duke-Coastal Utah-style margin.
Among other findings, 83 percent of Iowans favor hot, buttered sweet corn, 82 percent support warm spring days and 79 percent are in favor of freckle-faced kids waving flags at Fourth of July parades.
OK, I made those last three up. Anyone claiming to have better numbers is asked to provide them.
Point is, the public consensus on allowing sick people and their doctors to access cannabis in Iowa has become remarkably broad. And it’s just the latest poll showing clear support.
But the Golden Dome of Wisdom is thick. News doesn’t always get through. Not like free food, anyway.
So this week, legislation laying the long-awaited groundwork for a regulated medical marijuana program in Iowa, accessible by a broad range of Iowans with chronic, painful and debilitating illnesses, passed the Senate by a narrow 26-19 margin. All Democrats but one voted yes. All present Republicans but one voted no.
So, progress, right? Republicans who run the House say they won’t take up the bill. Thud.
Stopping something so clearly acceptable to most Iowans means getting creative. It means zigging when you might normally zag. So Republican opponents, backed into an unpopular corner, broke the emergency glass and deployed an argument so foreign to their being, it threatened to tear the time-space continuum.
We really should let the federal government make this health care decision.
Yup, the death-paneling, care-rationing, destroying-freedom-as-we-know-it federal government. Sure, we’d like to help you, but, instead, let’s defer to the massive machine we’ve repeatedly warned you about, implored you to fear above all else, the one laying waste to America’s dreams.
They’ve got this.
The Food and Drug Administration, they contend, hasn’t OK’d marijuana for medical use. Despite the fact that several states have successful, safe and tightly regulated medical marijuana programs for their sick citizens, Iowa should take a pass until Washington ends the war on drugs.
Wait for it. Any minute now.
So, if at all possible, please delay the onset of your painful chronic or terminal condition until further notice. We’ll let you know. Be well!
Hypocrisy, I know, is a Statehouse staple. Heck, there are more than enough pots and kettles hanging around to decorate 10 Cracker Barrels. Still, this one is jarring.
And if all else fails, accuse supporters of playing politics. A classic.
“I think it’s terribly frustrating that we would use the tragedies of people’s mental issues or physical issues to try to make a political point,” said Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-RAGBRAI, who voted no.
Thank goodness there are lawmakers who will stand up to such brazen efforts to pass bills Iowans support.
So what is the political point? It might be that opponents of moving forward in a meaningful way on this issue are grabbing at straws while people and their loved ones wait needlessly for help. That’s also known as a valid point. An excellent point, even.
The bill’s lead backer, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-People’s Republic, pointed out that many federally approved medications prescribed to scores of Iowans are far more dangerous than marijuana, including highly addictive opiates and other medicines with frightening side effects, like death. Many folks seeking access to cannabis have been on those legal drugs, have suffered side effects, and now want the ability, with the help of a doctor, to try something else.
They want government to get out of the way. Why, it’s almost conservative.
“Folks need our help” said Bolkcom, obviously playing politics.
And what’s “terribly frustrating” for me is that this is going to happen, so all the foot-dragging does nothing but prolong the wait for people who shouldn’t have to wait. Maybe House leaders are waiting for support to top 90 percent.