May 31, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Roger Ouellette (203) 841-6711

Glasson: Expand Iowa’s medical cannabis program and legalize marijuana

“Marijuana prohibition isn’t working. Iowa needs to legalize it, regulate it and tax it.”

Democrat Cathy Glasson called for a major expansion of Iowa’s medical cannabis program today and said she would support legalizing marijuana for personal use by adults over 21 as Iowa’s next Governor.

Glasson says more than 12,000 Iowans have health conditions that could benefit from expanding the state’s medical cannabis program. “The Legislature made a good start with the original medical cannabis program, but too many conditions are still excluded, too many Iowans are still left out and the products still aren’t at full effectiveness to give thousands of patients the relief they need,” she stated. “It’s time to expand the number of health conditions covered by the program and allow doctors, nurse practitioners
and physician assistants to approve medical cannabis for treatment of any health condition that they believe it would help alleviate.”

Glasson said new research shows medical cannabis can be used to help address the opioid crisis by replacing prescription opiates for pain management and assisting in treatment for patients struggling with opioid addiction. “Expanding access to medical cannabis could
play an important role in fighting the opioid epidemic In Iowa,” she stated.

Glasson said over the past year she has heard from people across Iowa that it’s also time to decriminalize marijuana and legalize it for personal use. “The ongoing criminalization of marijuana just doesn’t make sense,” said Cathy Glasson. “It’s a waste of time in our criminal justice system, a waste of taxpayer resources in our state budget and, most importantly, a terrible waste of lives in our state penitentiaries. Too many families and communities are being ripped apart by mass incarceration for non-violent drug offenses. This is particularly true for our communities of color who are disproportionately affected by our drug laws. It’s time to have the courage to modernize our drug laws and re-invest our tax dollars in the right priorities.”

Glasson said she would sign a law to legalize marijuana that contains safeguards for Iowa communities and licenses businesses to sell marijuana to Iowa adults over 21 for personal use. Legalizing marijuana in Iowa could also lead to the creation of dozens of new businesses
and hundreds of new jobs.

The ICU nurse and union leader said that legalizing marijuana makes good fiscal sense. “Smart legalization, regulation and taxation of the sale of marijuana could lead to tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for Iowa,” she stated. “Those new revenues could then be used to address critical priorities like restoring mental health services, improving drug addiction treatment, raising teacher pay and making college more affordable.” Glasson believes the policy could also result in millions of taxpayer dollars saved when Iowa no longer prosecutes or jails people for non-violent marijuana offenses.

Cathy Glasson, 59, is the President of SEIU Local 199 representing thousands of nurses, health care workers and school support employees across Iowa. She is a registered nurse who worked in the intensive care unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where she led the effort to unionize her fellow nurses 18 years ago. She lives in Coralville, Iowa with her husband Matt, a labor educator.