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Iowa's Kim Reynolds Says She 'Won't be the Governor to' Legalize Recreational Cannabis in the State

After Illinois legalized recreational cannabis last month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has doubled down on her opposition to bringing legal weed to the Hawkeye State.

"I do not support recreational marijuana. I don't," Reynolds told The Gazette on Friday. "I won't be the governor to do that."

The reasons Reynolds cited for her continued opposition to cannabis comprise the same outdated rhetoric the anti-cannabis crowd typically goes for. Concerns around the strength of cannabis, marijuana's links to psychosis, increased rates of drug-impaired driving and the gateway drug theory. However, Reynolds did say she'd be open to bringing medical marijuana to the state.

"Medical is different. I think we need to be cautious and careful. I think we're seeing the benefits from the cannabidiol oil that has none or very little of the THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in it and it's having an impact," she said.

But Reynolds' words don't match up with her actions. Earlier this year she vetoed a bill that would have significantly expanded the state's medical marijuana program despite it being passed through both houses of the legislature with bipartisan support. Despite this, she has said she is prepared to work with lawmakers ahead of the 2020 legislative session to draft a new bill.

And legislators in the state seem to optimistic that progress can be made next year.

"I feel about 100 percent confident that we will get expansion for the people needing [medical marijuana] for pain," Sen. Brad Zaun (R) told WHOtv.

Democrats Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Rep. John Forbes have already begun pushing for an interim study on legalizing medical marijuana in Iowa.

"The goal now must be seeing the necessary medical cannabis reforms signed into law shortly after the January start of the 2020 session," Forbes told The Gazette.

So while Iowans probably should not expect recreational cannabis to come to their state anytime soon, broader access to medical marijuana may not be that far out of reach.


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