Try 1 month for 99¢

DES MOINES | The Iowa Senate voted 27-23 Tuesday to approve tougher penalties for synthetic drugs or imitation controlled substances.

But senators altered a House-passed bill with other drug-related changes that could jeopardize the bill’s trek to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk.

The bill is a comprehensive effort to stem the sales of synthetic and counterfeit drugs and ensure people who sell them can be criminally charged, proponents said.

“These drugs are a public health issue resulting in numerous emergency room visits, hospitalizations and sometimes deaths to persons who use them,” said Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center.

However, a number of senators who supported the House-passed version voted against the measure after an amendment was attached that seeks to move marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled substance; make possession of five grams or less of marijuana a simple misdemeanor rather than a serious misdemeanor; bring penalties for crack and powder cocaine more in line with each other without reducing the penalties; and give judges discretion to waive mandatory minimum sentences in some drug cases.

The amendment passed 26-24 when Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, joined 25 majority Democrats while Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids, voted with 23 GOP senators in opposition.

Mathis voted for the bill on final passage but said she opposed the amendment out of concern it might stall a bill important to her constituents.

“Let’s pass a clean bill and send it to the governor,” said Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola. “We can deal with these other issues in other bills. I’m reluctant this late in the session to be perhaps even jeopardizing the bill by adding these controversial amendments.”

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0

Statehouse reporter for The Courier

Load comments