The Iowa Progressive Alliance believes that cannabis legalization should be passed in Iowa immediately. It is not simply an issue of freedom of choice, but one of maintaining civil liberties.
Cannabis is quickly becoming the litmus test for all Democrats, not just progressives, and for good reason. According to the ACLU, nationally the arrest rate for possession of cannabis for black people is four times to one for white people, despite equal use between all races. Criminalization of cannabis is racist.
These statistics may seem alarming but here in Iowa it is much worse. In 2014, the arrest rate for cannabis-related crimes reached a peak of 8-1. That’s a compelling argument to legalize cannabis in Iowa considering the state is majority white. This statistic is absolutely startling when you considering that in Iowa the population of African Americans make up less than four percent of our entire state’s population according to census statistics. In 2016, 25% of our jail population was black. Legalization of cannabis is only part of the problem but it gives an easy way for police to search and incarcerate people who may not be aware of the law. The alleged smell of cannabis is enough to violate a person’s civil liberties and some states have gone so far as to eliminate that threat by disallowing the idea of smelling being probable cause.
It’s true that any state will receive a boon of resources from legalizing cannabis. It’s true that those resources would go to schools and infrastructure and help rebuild the state. Keeping cannabis illegal only helps those that sell it illegally and it hurts those who are trying to enjoy it in a responsible manner. It stifles the medical industry and keeps people in pain. It ruins potential when a young person with no criminal history gets caught with a small amount and it destroys their life. It’s a moral imperative that we legalize cannabis.