Linn County recently announced a diversion program for first-time marijuana “offenders,” detailed in a Dec. 29 Gazette article. Unfortunately, the program is not just ineffective at rectifying Iowa’s indefensible marijuana stance; it creates additional precedent that embarrasses Iowa on a national stage regarding sensible cannabis policy.
The new program traps first-time defendants into “voluntarily” entering a deal to have their charge dropped that requires completion of many unnecessary, inefficient actions — a devil’s bargain. The most disturbing action labels program entrants as “substance abusers.” This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of national reckoning on the necessity to legalize and educate.
The Linn County attorney has claimed this program addresses racial disparities in arrests where Iowa has, horrifically, led the nation in the past.
Iowan denizens: do not be distracted by this hollow juke move. Through its disturbingly on-brand legislative inaction on cannabis reform, Iowa continues to serve as contrarian to sensible drug policy and racially sensitive lawmaking.
Weed should be legal everywhere for adults. We must legalize and educate for safe access. Linn County is doing the opposite by requiring stigmatized classes for simple adult use, despite that marijuana is medically or recreationally legal in the majority of states. Iowa’s neighbors have robust medical or recreational programs in place. We are in last place!
Linn County residents (and all Iowans) must question why the Linn County attorney wants to “divert” Iowans into a program that labels them substance abusers when they would not be if a mere 90 miles east.