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In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Iowa Democrats, meeting in the state convention in Des Moines, approved a platform plank calling for the legalization of all drugs.
On Monday, however, Democratic legislative leaders made it clear they don't embrace that position and will either run away from it or ignore the policy position adopted by party activists.
'I've spent a good deal of my life as a substance abuse counselor, and I'm not going to support legalization of methamphetamine and illegal opioids,” House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said. 'I just can't go that direction.”
In calling for the legalization of all drugs, delegates rejected a minority report from the Platform Committee that called for replacing 'legalizing” with 'decriminalizing” all drugs, Platform Committee Chairman Mike Robinson of Linn County said. Another minority report called for deleting the plank altogether.
'Interestingly enough, they went with legalizing all drugs,” Robinson said.
That prompted a flurry of social media posts along the lines of 'who put Keith Richards on the platform committee?” and 'when smack is outlawed, only outlaws will shoot smack.”
Longtime activist and blogger John Deeth of Iowa City tweeted that he 'claimed copyright on ‘Hillary Is Our Heroin' just so Jeff Kaufmann will have to pay me royalties when he prints it on bumper stickers.”
'It's fair game,” Kaufmann, the chairman of the Iowas Republican Party, said Monday. 'They will be looking at every semicolon in our platform, so turnabout is fair play.”
Kaufmann acknowledged that 'conventions can sometimes mirror the typical Iowans, sometimes they don't.” Still he was 'taken aback” by Democrats adopting a plank most Iowans will consider 'way outside the mainstream.”
'We've had some agitation for that sort of thing, but it was rejected pretty strongly,” he said.
It's not unusual to have platform elements some Democrats agree with and some Democrats disagree with, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said, and legalizing drugs is not a position exclusive to Democrats.
'Do some Democrats want to do that? Yes. Do some Libertarians want to do that? Did Ron Paul want to do that?” Gronstal said.
He thinks Iowa voters will understand 'there are very few people running for office who would advocate for that.”
'That legislation will not move through the Iowa Legislature,” Gronstal added.
Legalizing all drugs is 'clearly not in the mainstream … but I think there are a lot more times the Republicans face that (platform) challenge,” he added.
The Democratic convention also approved a plank calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage rather than the committee's proposal to eliminate the minimum age in favor of a living wage.
There was little disagreement among Democrats about raising the minimum wage. The question was how much and how fast. The 'fight for $15” plank replaced one that simply called for replacing the minimum wage with a 'living wage.”