Oct 14, 2022 - Politics

Iowa Democrats break silence to publicly support legal cannabis

Illustration of a checkmark with a marijuana leaf on the end.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Reformation around cannabis laws is quickly gaining support in the U.S., especially among the left — prompting more Iowa Democrats to break their silence and publicly support legalization.

Driving the news: President Joe Biden recently announced marijuana pardons as a small policy change which could entice young voters before the midterm election.

  • Democratic House leader Jennifer Konfrst told the Des Moines Register the issue is "ready for prime time," especially as more neighboring states move towards legalization, including Missouri and South Dakota.

State of play: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear is headlining an event Saturday hosted by Free the Weed Iowa — a local marijuana reform group.

Zoom in: The group's founder, Bradley Knott, said Iowan's public sentiment towards cannabis has significantly shifted since the "Reefer Madness"-era of the 70s, pointing to a 2021 Iowa Poll where 54% of Iowans supported recreational legalization for the first time-ever.

What they’re saying: If more Democrats vocalize their support, Knott believes it will encourage young voters to turn out, who often lean left.

  • On DeJear's site, she has a page dedicated to cannabis legalization, saying she supports regulating it similarly to alcohol.
  • Democratic Senate candidate Mike Franken and Rep. Cindy Axne also support legalization.

What's next: The actual chances of legalizing recreational weed right now are slim, as Gov. Kim Reynolds has said she opposes it, and there’s a Republican majority Legislature.

Yes, but: Lucas Nelson, who owns Bud & Mary's, the state's first medical dispensary, plans on lobbying next year for expanding Iowa's medical program to allow the sale of "flower," which is the bud.

  • He feels confident that in the next decade, Iowa will have a large legal marijuana program, especially as the medical side grows in popularity.
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