HOST: Well, good Monday morning to you. Three minutes after 8 o'clock. Welcome to the show. Local talk radio on the air here in Waterloo and Cedar Falls and around eastern Iowa. I hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed the big win by the UNI men's football team Saturday night. That was a squeaker. And another squeaker Sunday. The UNI women's basketball team won by just one point over Iowa State. So a big upset there for the women. Congratulations to both teams. Well, this morning on our local talk show, remember you can always get in on the show by calling 277-1918 or 1-800-913-9479, the topic this morning - the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. All right, we heard about it, it's been in the news because of a recent decision in California that has allowed that, or paved the way to allow it. And we're going to talk about that, and also talk about any movement here in the State of Iowa to do the same type of thing - legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. And joining me now on the program first is Ron Corbett. Mr. Corbett is a Republican from Cedar Rapids, House Speaker. And Mr. Corbett, welcome to the program this morning.
CORBETT: Thank you, and good morning.
HOST: Good morning. Now, you have come out, even before the session, nothing's really been said. The session starts what in January?
CORBETT: January 13, yes.
HOST: So you're about ready to go back to work then?
CORBETT: Yeah, we are.
HOST: That job, anyway.
HOST: Ron, now you've come out before this session and talked against the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Tell me why you've come out and made that public announcement.
CORBETT: Sure. Well there's several reasons. First of all, not just voters in California, but the voters in Arizona, have passed a referendum on the ballot this last November, and so we've had this renewed debate as far as marijuana goes. Now in both those states they were referendums. There's going to be an attempt in other states that allow referendums in future elections. Iowa is not a state that allows for referendums, so the decisions would have to be made by the state legislature, the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. A week ago, Republicans got together and put together their list of items that we wanted to accomplish next year and we also made a list of things that we weren't going to take up and this was an issue that we decided that we did not want to take up. There is a small lobbying group, an organization for this in the state of Iowa, but at least from what I understand with the Arizona and the California that it's such a broad definition "medical use" that we'd have a real hard time. Where do you draw the line? I mean, today stress is a medical term, and so someone feels they're a little stressed out at work. You know, do they go home? Do they pick up a bag of marijuana and tell their doctor or primary care giver that they're stressed out and they need to have this? So, it isn't something that... You know, people say, well that would never happen. I mean, it's a pretty broad term and definition, and so we decided we do not want to tackle this next year.
HOST: Um hum. In your mind, in your feelings, if the definition could be narrowed down to not included all people or all medical reasons, is it something at that point you'd be in favor of?
CORBETT: Well, I still don't think so. I know, the fact that this notion that marijuana has demonstrated medical utility has been rejected by the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Cancer Society. So, they've debated this in their organizations and they felt that there isn't a reason. There, as far as some of these things with chemotherapy, the nausea, etc., there are other drugs that have been shown to be more successful first line therapy drugs for nausea and vomiting versus marijuana or synthetic THC, which is actually the ingredient within marijuana that the advocates say is helpful.
HOST: Um hum. Apparently, several groups have okayed the use, or said that it does provide for some medical usage. There have been the American Bar Association, and even the Iowa Democratic Party, has come out and said that it does show that there are some uses for it, even though some of the groups that you mention don't approve it.
CORBETT: As you know, that's going to be the case. I mean, people are going to line up on both sides of the issue. Each side is going to throw out a study. We can, I can quote different studies from different doctors and colleges around the country that say there's no evidence for marijuana usage in areas and I suppose the other side can show us some studies, too, but it, when you have President Clinton's national drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, coming out, this is his quote, just when the nation is trying it's hardest to educate teenagers not to use drugs, now they're being told that marijuana and other drugs are good. You know, that they're medicine. That it's okay, and so the national drug czar, Iowa's drug czar, is against it, and this whole coalition of, drug-free coalition, D.A.R.E. programs, all the different programs that we have out there that have recognized that drugs are bad, and the war on drugs that we've been having, certainly marijuana's considered a gateway drug to other drugs.
HOST: Now, when you mention that the topic won't come up this year, and that the Republican leaders have met on this, now, let's explain, that's because the Republican Party does control the House and Senate in Iowa, and you guys pretty much set the agenda. Is that not right?
CORBETT: Yeah. The Republicans control the House, we've done that now for three elections cycles, but this year the Republicans were successful, Republican candidates in the Senate were successful in getting the majority, so now we have a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate. And, of course, Governor Branstad is a Republican, so this is the first time in fourteen years where the Republicans have had control of the Legislature. But, even as far as this, that the medical use, I mean, we still have, in the California initiative, it allowed for cultivation for growers, it allowed for possession, even if you're not sick. I mean, you're going to develop a whole, if you're going to try and create an additional supply, or additional demand for marijuana, you're going to have suppliers that are out there. So you're going to have people now growing and possessing. And just imagine the field day attorneys can have in court when it comes to our laws. You know, you can say, well I was just delivering this bag to a friend of mine who has AIDS and they need to use, they need to use this to help them out, and so I think, in the court of law, having these broad definitions, as it relates to the referendums in Arizona and California, it's going to be a nightmare in the court system.
HOST: Well, how about the people that would use the drug for medicinal purposes and actually would have a need for it and who believe that it does help them? What would you say to them?
CORBETT: Yeah. I have to give some type of credibility to some studies that have shown, you know, like, I don't have AIDS and haven't had cancer, so I haven't had the, that option before me, but apparently with some of the people they do feel that it's been helpful to them. But, it isn't a treatment for the disease. I mean, that's one thing that has to be clear. It isn't a treatment for the disease, it's supposedly to relieve some of the pain and suffering, but there are other drugs. I think you've got two different, you've got people that actually can benefit from it that are kind of used, being used as props. I'm not so sure that the people that have been backing these referendums, this movement around the country, have a larger goal in mind, the outright legalization of all drugs. And if you follow the money trail, in politics there's money, the pro-legalization folks spent over two million dollars on this referendum, and the anti folks barely had forty, fifty thousand bucks. And so, there's a lot of money behind this, the marketing, and so I certainly feel sorry for any of those people who find themselves in that position, but I'm not so sure they're not being used as props for a larger cause.
HOST: Well, Mr. Corbett, we're going to hear from one of those people here in just a bit. And, we're going to have you stay on the phone. Okay?
HOST: All right. Rob Corbett of Cedar Rapids, a Republican and House Speaker of the Iowa House, on his feelings as to why marijuana shouldn't be legalized in the state of Iowa for medicinal purposes. And up next, we'll talk to one of those patients who says it does him good. Stay tuned. Local talk radio on KCNZ.
for Medical Marijuana