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OUR OPINION: Many questions exist about legalized recreational pot use in Iowa

February 7, 2019

From the beginning of the discussion, we have supported a medical marijuana program for our state because we have compassion for Iowans who seek relief through cannabidiol for medical conditions from which they suffer.

Moving forward, we have urged the state to study ways of improving Iowa’s medical marijuana program, including an expansion of illnesses for which cannabidiol can be used as treatment. A 2014 law legalized medical marijuana for epilepsy; a 2017 law expanded the state’s program to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and any terminal illness with a life expectancy of under one year.

Last month, the state added ulcerative colitis to the list of conditions. On Friday, the Iowa Board of Medicine will discuss the addition of “severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors.”

We urge state leaders to remain open-minded to the addition of more conditions to the approved list.

At this point, however, that’s as far as we wish to see the state go on marijuana. We stop short of support for the expansion of legalized marijuana to include recreational use. On Monday, Sen. Joe Bolckom, D-Iowa City, announced he plans to file a bill to make recreational use of marijuana legal.

We acknowledge the growing “green wave” in America. Ten states have made recreational marijuana use legal. The list may get bigger this year as multiple additional states consider such legislation.

For that reason, we do not oppose a start to dialogue about the issue within our state.

For today, though, we have too many questions related to the myriad ramifications of legalized recreational pot use to say we support taking this step here, including questions about public health and safety, regulation, taxation and profit.

Because no compelling reason exists for a quick decision about legalized recreational use of marijuana in Iowa, state leaders can and should take all the time necessary for a thorough, careful review of the issue.

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