Libertarian candidate for governor Rick Stewart opens one of his recent TV ads by questioning Iowa’s Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) about her resistance to legalizing marijuana and easing up on arrests for simple possession, reported local media.
“What the hell, Kim?” he says. “Here I am in Illinois — why, only a few miles from the Iowa border — and they’ve got legal cannabis.” Stewart said in the spot titled “Dear Kim, ‘WEED!’”
“Our laws today in Iowa put people into rape cages because they smoked marijuana,” Stewart said. “You’re going to lose your college scholarship, you’re going to lose your job, you’re going to lose your kids — you’re going to lose everything because here in Iowa we think cannabis is a gateway drug. Well, a gateway to what?”
Stewart is the co-founder of Frontier Natural Products Co-op, a cooperatively owned wholesaler of organic products, based in Norway, Iowa. This is not the first time Stewart has released an ad calling for the end of the War on Drugs. ‘When I win, I will chase drug war criminals with a vengeance. Most of them are here in DC, stalking the halls of Congress. They’ve wasted 1 trillion dollars and decimated three generations of black Americans,” Stewart said in 2016 when he was running for Linn County sheriff.
While Governor Reynolds opposes legalizing marijuana, Democrat candidate Deidre DeJear supports legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol for adults 21 and older. According to a 2021 poll, 54% of adults say they favor legalizing weed for recreational use in Iowa, while 39% oppose it and 6% are unsure.
Cannabis in Iowa
Although neighboring Illinois has legal cannabis, and Nebraska, Minnesota and Missouri have decriminalized simple possession, Iowa continues to arrest individuals for possessing small amounts of weed. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, first-offense possession is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, which is “one of the most severe first-offense penalties in the country.” Data compiled by the ACLU, shows Black Iowans are nearly eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.
During the 2022 legislative session, Senators Joe Bolkcom (D), Janet Petersen (D), and Sarah Trone Garriott (D) proposed an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would legalize cannabis for adults.
Michael Franken (D), one of Iowa’s Senate candidates, has spoken out on the federal cannabis legalization, its removal as a controlled substance and addressing incarceration for marijuana-related crimes, which disproportionately affect Black Iowans.
“I view the medicinal use of marijuana and the recreational use, controlled much as we do with alcohol, to be absolutely fine and well overdue,” Franken told reporters in June. “We should have the federal statutes put in place where money, revenue generated by taxing THC is used for interstate commerce just like it would for anything else.”
Meanwhile, Iowa’s Republican Senator Chuck Grassley does not support adult-use cannabis legalization.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.