House Concurrent Resolution 104 is a Bad Idea

On January 19, 2018, some Iowa legislators with good intentions filed House Concurrent Resolution 104 (HCR104), asking the federal government to reclassify marijuana.

Although the intention is good, HCR104 is bad.

Iowa needs to clean up its own affairs before making a fuss about the mess the federal government is perpetuating.  Before addressing federal drug law, legislators should consider why we have 50 different state drug laws that all differ from federal drug law and from each other.  It’s called “federalism” and it’s our system of government in these united states.

It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.

Justice Louis Brandeis’ dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932)

The scheduling of marijuana in Iowa has not been consistent with federal scheduling since 1979 when the Iowa legislature decided to put marijuana into two schedules, schedule 1 and schedule 2.  Marijuana is only in federal schedule 1, not in two schedules.

Compare Iowa Code § 124.204(4)(m) (2018) and Iowa Code § 124.206(7)(a) (2018) with federal regulation 21 C.F.R. § 1308.11(d)(23) (2017).  And see, State v. Bonjour, 694 N.W.2d 511 (Iowa 2005) (detailing the history of Iowa’s dual scheduling of marijuana).

Furthermore, the scheduling of THC in Iowa has not been consistent with federal scheduling since 2008 when the Iowa legislature decided to put naturally extracted THC products in state schedule 3.  Naturally extracted THC products are in federal schedule 1, not in schedule 3.

Compare Iowa Code § 124.208(9)(b) (2018) with federal regulation 21 C.F.R. § 1308.13(g)(1) (2017).

It is beyond question that Iowa can determine it’s own scheduling on marijuana and THC, and Iowa has consistently done so.

Asking the federal government to reclassify marijuana to federal schedule 2 while leaving marijuana in state schedule 1 is a really bad idea.

Iowa should place marijuana in state schedule 2, as the bill the Iowa Board of Pharmacy filed in 2011 would have done, before asking the federal government to do something we won’t do as an act of good faith.

Iowa must show good faith and leadership by removing marijuana from state schedule 1 and then reminding the federal government that its illegal to violate our state sovereignty.

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2 Responses to House Concurrent Resolution 104 is a Bad Idea

  1. Michelle Servadio says:

    You didn’t mention the mess they also have made with industrial hemp.

    • Carl Olsen says:

      I am writing about proposed legislation that was filed on January 19, 2018, and that legislation has nothing to do with industrial hemp.

      A consistent theme I write about is failure to understand the state’s role in the federal drug law.

      When the state of Iowa accepted the medical use of marijuana and left it classified as a substance without any medical use in the United States, the state failed to establish grounds to complain about federal scheduling which says marijuana has no accepted medical use in the states.  Iowa scheduling says the same thing.  There is state law that says marijuana has medical use in the production of cannabis oil, and another older state classification that says marijuana has no medical use in treatment in the United States.  If opium, which is classified as a medicine under both state and federal schedules, has medical use in the production of morphine, then marijuana has medical use in the production of cannabis oil.

      Industrial hemp was legalized by Congress in 2014, but only if a state accepts it according to the terms of the 2014 federal law.  There was never a law classifying industrial hemp on the basis of whether it had accepted industrial use in the states, or requiring a change in federal classification if that condition changed.  Congress actually had to amend the federal drug law, because it didn’t include any way to reclassify industrial hemp.  But the 2014 federal law says a state must accept the industrial use before it has any effect in that state.  Iowa hasn’t accepted it.

      The federal and state drug laws never had a condition for industrial hemp like the one they have for medical cannabis that requires changing the classification.

      Congress cannot force the states to accept the industrial use of hemp any more than it could force the states to accept the medical use of marijuana.