Bolkcom: Iowa Should Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol


Here are the top reasons to regulate marijuana in the same way that Iowa regulates alcohol

Marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked and hurts taxpayers and everyday Iowans.

Marijuana prohibition is ineffective and expensive.
While law enforcement and the court system have done
their best to enforce prohibition, prohibition has not
made Iowans significantly safer or healthier.
Despite this, Iowa spends millions each year to arrest,
prosecute, jail, imprison and punish thousands of nonviolent
Iowans for possessing a product that is less
toxic, less addictive and less lethal than alcohol.
By legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana to
Iowa adults, we can refocus our criminal justice system
on serious crime and expand substance abuse
treatment programs.

While regulating marijuana will bring its own set
of challenges, these challenges are less harmful to
Iowans than prohibition.

Iowa’s continued criminalization of marijuana imposes a
heavy burden on Iowa families in the form of lost jobs,
legal bills, jail time, broken families, violence and crime.
Despite this, marijuana remains available to almost
anyone that seeks it. Iowans know that it’s less toxic,
less addictive and less lethal than the alcohol available
at every Hy‐Vee, Casey’s and Kum and Go.
Iowa should not keep spending millions and millions
each year to arrest, prosecute, jail and punish
thousands of Iowans for possessing a substance less
harmful than legal alcohol.

Marijuana regulation hasn’t led to increased use
among teenagers

Like cigarette and alcohol consumption, teen use of
marijuana must be aggressively discouraged and
According to the most comprehensive government
surveys in each state, no state that regulates marijuana
for adults has seen an overall increase in teen marijuana
use. In fact, most of the data indicates slight decreases
in teen use.

Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol
to the consumer and to society

Adults should not be punished for making the safer
choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol, if that is
what they prefer.

Researchers have consistently concluded that marijuana
is less toxic than alcohol, has less potential for
addiction, and is less likely to contribute to serious
medical problems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reports that there are more than 30,000 alcoholinduced
deaths per year, including more than 2,000
from acute overdose. It reports zero marijuana‐induced
deaths each year and there has never been a verified
marijuana overdose death.

Enforcement of marijuana laws is inherently
biased by race and income

The enforcement of marijuana prohibition is grossly
unequal. Low income and Black Iowans are
disproportionally arrested and prosecuted.
Black Iowans are four time more likely to be arrested
for marijuana even though Blacks and Whites both use
marijuana at similar rates. A law that is not enforced
equally is an unfair law and erodes trust in our justice

Regulating Marijuana Will Undermine the Underground Market

Regulating marijuana like we regulate alcohol will
undermine Iowa’s illegal underground market for
marijuana. Without state regulation, Iowa’s illegal
underground‐market will continue to profitably operate
unregulated and untaxed in the shadows.

Regulation means control. Unlike licensed businesses,
illegal sellers operate anywhere and sell to minors.
Their product is not tested for purity, potency, or
contamination. In addition, illegal sellers often also sell
drugs that are much more addictive and harmful.

Regulating the marijuana market is objectively safer and
less harmful than allowing the illegal market to be

Ten states now regulate marijuana like alcohol
Ten states, the home to 80 million Americans now
regulate the use of marijuana by adults (21 years of
age). Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont,
Washington and the District of Columbia now regulate
adult use of marijuana.

Regulated marijuana is coming to the Midwest

In November, voters in Michigan approved regulated
marijuana use for adults. The newly elected Governors
of both Minnesota and Illinois are calling on their states
to follow suit. Illinois is likely to replace marijuana
prohibition with marijuana regulation by the summer of

Regulating Marijuana will create new Iowa businesses, jobs and tax revenue

Regulating marijuana in Iowa will create new businesses
and an estimated 4,000‐7,000 new Iowa jobs across the
state. In addition, estimates are that Iowa’s state and
local governments would gain between $40 to $70
million each year in new revenue.

Sixty‐two percent of Americans support regulating marijuana like alcohol

The Marijuana Policy Project has the most complete
information on state regulation of marijuana.

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2 Responses to Bolkcom: Iowa Should Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

  1. Jim R says:

    Thanks for the support of smart policy.


  2. scott stephenson says:

    This was very informative. It’s about time someone in this state realizes that there are people who do not enjoy drinking alcohol for specific reasons like headaches and vomiting. Not fun.


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