On a mostly party-line vote, by a slim majority, the Iowa Senate today approved a bill to authorize the production and dispensing of marijuana in Iowa for medical use.
The bill goes now to the House, where leaders say it will not be taken up this year.
The bill would authorize a highly regulated program to provide marijuana for medical conditions for which traditional pharmaceuticals have failed.
Democrat Steve Sodders, a Marshall County deputy sheriff, says a few years ago he would not have voted for medical marijuana.
He’s been in law enforcement for 27 years.
“Most of that in drug investigations,” Sodders says. “I came a long way on this subject.”
Sodders was one of 26 senators voting yes. West Des Moines Republican Charles Schneider struggled over his vote.
“It took me a long time to decide how to vote on this bill,” Schneider says.
But Schneider voted no because marijuana is still federally outlawed. He agrees that public opinion is shifting on the issue.
“Attitudes have changed,” Schneider says. “My attitude has changed.”
Schneider favors reclassifying marijuana as a drug with medicinal use as a signal to the federal government.
Onlookers in the gallery applauded the Senate vote.
One lawmaker said “shame on you” to the House for not taking up the bill this year.