Iowa Politics — Tue. Feb. 05, 2019

Iowa Politics — Tue. Feb. 05, 2019

Legal Weed

It’s a proposal that, by his own admission, doesn’t stand a chance of passage. But that didn’t stop Iowa City state senator Joe Bolkcom from making it yesterday…a suggestion that recreational marijuana should be legalized in our state and taxed like alcohol.

In Sen. Bolkcom’s words, “marijuana prohibition in Iowa has failed and we need a better approach”.  Like the folks in Colorado, he emphasized the new businesses, jobs and economic activity that would be created by legalizing marijuana.

That avoids the issue of social impact of drug use, whether limited to marijuana, or with marijuana as a so-called gateway drug.

If our drug prohibition policy has failed…does that mean simply giving in and letting pot be sold like a bottle of wine? It would seem that our immigration policy has failed…so does that mean open borders?

The senator says it’s time to have a serious discussion on the topic. Alright, that’s fair enough. But how many times have folks criticized a get-jobs-at-any-cost economic development approach…often with good reason? Therefore, saying that there will be more jobs and tax revenue from having weed shops on downtown corners rings a bit hollow.

The societal cost of legal recreational marijuana in states like Colorado are just starting to become known…and let’s also not forget that it’s illegal under federal law, meaning those who operate these businesses cannot even use FDIC-insured bank accounts for fear of federal prosecution. Hard to make a good economic argument with that being the case.

I’m all for productive discussion. This issue, however, doesn’t seem like one with enough facts yet known.