The pressure is on for Iowa lawmakers as neighboring states begin to legalize marijuana. Law reforms are growing prominent statewide, including Iowa State University students supporting the advocacy group NORML.

I asked Morningside University students their opinion on the legalization of marijuana in Iowa, and if they think a program like NORML would be of interest on our campus.

“I think legalizing marijuana would provide a lot of jobs in our area, and there is a lot of money that can be made for the state in taxes”, says Brenndan Gorski, a senior business major here at Morningside. Gorski, familiar with economics, explained how beneficial this would be for the economy not only because of the money but it would also open up space in jails if it were decriminalized. Gorski believes decriminalizing marijuana would “make the community a better place if the more dangerous and violent people were locked up and not people who recreationally use marijuana”.

In the article “Iowa State University students seek to legalize marijuana”, it is stated that under Iowa law the punishment for the possession or use of marijuana recreationally includes a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

Ron DeFauw, a senior Biology major, agrees with Gorski on the legalization of marijuana.

“For Iowans to be put in jail for smoking weed, it is doing the opposite of building our economy” DeFauw said. DeFauw explains that a lot of tax payers money “isn’t paying for the right kind of people to be in there” and that the laws that vary from state to state do not give Americans equal opportunities.

DeFauw also explains that law makers should consider the medicinal opportunities that marijuana provides.

From a biology majors perspective, he states, “Since it is a federally banned substance it makes it illegal to experiment on it and do further research on things like the endocannabinoid system”. DeFauw says that there is a lot of benefits that can come from the research of marijuana. “…it can provide jobs for scientists, there could be medical breakthroughs, and I’m sure the list could go on” says DeFauw.

Although these students support the legalization of marijuana in Iowa, some students like Bri Courtney, a junior nursing major, are more skeptical about taking this step.

“I think it has its benefits, but I don’t think it is for everyone either” says Courtney. She continues to elaborate, saying that not many young adults are responsible enough to maintain healthy lifestyles if it is recreationally legalized.

Although Courtney doesn’t support it she states she is on more of a middle ground. “I don’t really think it’s all that great but other states that are really close to Iowa that have already passed laws, like Illinois, are just bringing that kind of stuff here so it doesn’t matter anyways.”

Many students state-wide are actively advocating to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana.

“I want to provide an outlet for Iowans to share their voice on this important cause of cannabis law reform” says Josh Montgomery, a student apart of the organization NORML.

In an effort to further spread awareness, would a reformation group like NORML be supported at Morningside?

Gorski replied, “I think some sort of organization like that would be a great way to make it more of an easier subject to talk about and less of a ‘taboo'”.

DeFauw also agrees, “The more this is talked about seriously the faster change can happen”.

“I would definitely support a group like NORML here on campus… in fact, I think a lot of people would” DeFauw said. DeFauw believes that something like this on campus may not make any large legal changes for Iowa, but he says the community should be more informed so support numbers grow and “maybe we can reach this reformation to a federal level someday”.

Although Courtney is undecided on whether she supports the legalization of marijuana, she states, “I think that would be a great way to inform people like me so I can understand how it could be beneficial”.

The student organization NORML at Iowa State University has created a website in support for legalization of marijuana and they hope to gather 10,000 signatures. Although federal law prohibits states from lightening penalties and fines, creating local reform groups here at Morningside could create the same impact as it did at Iowa State University.

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