Iowa lawmakers debate whether to legalize medical marijuana - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa lawmakers debate whether to legalize medical marijuana

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Medical marijuana bills come up in the legislature almost every year, so it's not surprising to hear of two bills working to legalize medical marijuana in Iowa this year.

"Since the 1930s this has been a ridiculous law. The prohibition of marijuana needs to end," said activist Bob Wright.

"Drugs are bad, but marijuana is not a drug," he added, stating that doctors have indicated marijuana is the "least harmful substance that a human being can take."

Currently, SF79 and HF22 both aim to legalize medical marijuana for people with a "chronic or debilitating medical condition" such as cancer, glaucoma or HIV.

But critics in the Governor's office say debating the issue sends mixed messages to people, particularly teens.

"We spend a lot of time trying to educate our youth that drugs are harmful, and they're not healthy life choices, and they can have some real long-term consequences," said Steven Lukan, Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control.

"When policy makers and people of authority start talking about legalization, it really sends a mixed message to them," he said.

Opponents of legalized marijuana say the term "medical marijuana" is no different than marijuana purchased from a drug dealer.

Interestingly enough, proponents say that's one reason it should be legalized.

"To me, what's important is taking America's number one cash crop out of the hands of our drug dealers. I mean, more than corn and wheat combined is what marijuana is worth in this country. That's what they're making, and all that money is going to the people with guns," said Wright.

Lukan said he doesn't see the legalization of medical marijuana as a way to make Iowa's economy healthier.

"We think this would actually be counteractive to those efforts," he said.

Only time will tell how long the bills will stick around and be debated.

Neither has made onto the floor for a vote.

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