New drug and alcohol laws signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds this year range from kind of good to pretty bad in the eyes of freedom-loving Iowans.
• House File 2540 allows bars to sell sealed containers of mixed drinks and wine. This makes permanent the “cocktail to-go” measure Rey-nolds temporarily enacted during COVID-19 business restrictions, but does not allow Iowans to consume alcohol outside or in other public spaces. The law also allows nonprofits to host charity beer events.
• Senate File 2134 updates last year’s law allowing beer manufacturers to make canned cocktails, allowing more Iowa companies and consumers to partake in the growing market for canned beverages.
• House File 684 is a form of a “good Samaritan” policy, which gives limited legal protection to people who report substance-related health risks to the authorities. Iowa adopted a law in 2018 to promote overdose reporting, but it is riddled with conditions and exemptions that leave many people vulnerable to prosecution. This year’s law extends protection to underage drinkers, but has some of the same shortfalls.
• Senate File 2268 increases the age to possess nicotine products from 18 to 21, in line with a federal law signed by President Donald Trump last year. This was done in response to teenagers’ and young adults’ increasing use of vapor products. The war against vapes persists, pushed along by prohibitionists overstating youth use rates and the exaggerating the harm of vapor e-cigarettes.
• House File 2589 makes several important updates to Iowa’s medical cannabis program — it adds two conditions, allows more providers to recommend treatment and removes the ban on people with felony convictions from receiving cannabis treatment. However, the law also adjusts the allowable tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, limit in medical products, which will be an improvement for some patients but could make others worse off.
• House File 2581 allows for the manufacture, sale and consumption of consumable hemp products, which are grown from cannabis plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. The law allows stores to sell hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, which is already common in Iowa but was illegal until now. Unfortunately, the law specifically prohibits smoking or otherwise inhaling hemp, making hemp cigarettes illegal.
• Senate File 2120 adds veterinarians to Iowa’s prescription drug monitoring program, which is intended to identify people abusing controlled substances, such as opioids. Prescription monitoring programs face concerns over their effectiveness, data privacy and the administrative burden placed on health professionals.
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All in all, it was small progress and a few setbacks. That’s not good enough when our state already is behind the times — this is one of the worst states for over-criminalizing drugs and over-regulating alcohol.
At a time when Americans are demanding systemic change, I can’t help but be a little underwhelmed at the prospect of CBD gummies on store shelves.
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