DES MOINES, Iowa — States around the country are making changes to the laws surrounding the use of marijuana and that could possibly include Iowa.
Republican State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale says he will not support any kind of legislation that completely legalizes marijuana in the state of Iowa, but short of that, he would like to see some changes on this issue.
“We passed it through the full Senate, went through the process and then the House, I think just ran out of time,” said Zaun. “We sent it over there in the last month of the session.”
Zaun is hopeful that this year the Iowa House will pass a sentencing reform bill, just like the Iowa Senate did last year.
“Part of that sentencing reform bill we did was to actually give people a second chance,” said Zaun. “Our bill definition [said that] first possession of marijuana under three grams, you pay your fines or restitution, and [after] some good behavior time period, we would expunge that off of your record.”
Zaun, who is the chair of the Judiciary Committee, does not support the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.
“I don’t think Iowa`s interested in it right now,” said Zaun. “We`re kind of more of a conservative state. I recognize there’s other states that are doing that…I just spoke to a contractor in Colorado that said that he has trouble finding people that are employed, and this is a manual labor job, that aren’t under the influence.”
But Zaun does support giving people second chances.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of younger people and adults that are partaking in an illegal activity, which is using marijuana,” said Zaun. “And, I`m not talking about the medical use. That it unfortunately haunts them for the rest of their life, with maybe employment opportunities…”
A sentencing reform bill would address that, and Zaun is also interested in getting something done in the legislature on medical marijuana.
“I think the most important issue in regard to medical cannabis is raising the THC,” said Zaun. “I have a bill, and will have a bill, that I`m gonna be sponsoring with Senator Nate Boulton that would raise the THC to 13 percent. Currently, right now, it`s at 3 percent.”
Zaun says he is currently having conversations with Kemin Industries, which is the manufacturer that’s been approved for the state of Iowa, as well as having conversations with the medical community.