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Recreational marijuana use in Iowa might not be too far away

State Democrats revealed the text of a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana usage on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa legislators on Wednesday, Jan. 5 released the text of a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana usage.

Sens. Joe Bolkcom, Sarah Trone Garriot and Janet Petersen hosted the Wednesday afternoon news conference unveiling the text of the amendment, which would regulate the production, sale and consumption of products made from marijuana in a manner similar to the state's regulation of alcohol.

RELATED: Iowa Democrats propose legalizing recreational marijuana through constitutional amendment

"The amendment specifies that the Iowa Alcohol and Beverage Division, which regulates alcohol sales in Iowa, would regulate marijuana for adult use," Bolkam said in a statement accompanying the legislation. "It also establishes a state tax rate not to exceed 20% on retail sales and a tax rate up to 2% for local communities and counties that allow retails sales.”

Not everyone is in favor of passing the new law.

Sen. Brad Zaun said legalizing recreational marijuana use is only a focus of State Democrats to overshadow any plans more pressing issues in Iowa.

"Gimmicks like a constitutional amendment on recreational marijuana do a better job of illustrating the lack of ideas Senate Democrats have to solve the problems of Iowans than any response I have. We will continue cutting taxes, supporting law enforcement, and empowering parents in their children’s education. I have no intentions of advancing this bill out of the Judiciary Committee.”

The proposed amendment faces many obstacles before it can take effect. It must be passed by two general assemblies before it will reach the public for a majority vote.

"We believe it is time to trust Iowa voters," Petersen said in the statement. "Let’s give Iowans the freedom to vote on this issue. I encourage Iowans to contact their legislators in the coming days to urge them to push for the debate and passage of this Constitutional Amendment in the upcoming session.”

Currently, cannabis is legal for medical usage in Iowa with a card issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health after paying a fee and getting a certification from a health care provider.

If the amendment passes, Iowa would join 18 states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia to have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The legalization could have tremendous economic impact for Iowa.

“Marijuana is easily accessible for adult use in neighboring states," Trone Garriott said in the statement. "Iowa still has all of the challenges of this issue, but we get none of benefits. We are missing out on new, significant tax revenue, tax dollars that we could put to work in our state. We are missing out on new jobs, and young people are moving elsewhere for the opportunities in this industry."

Neighboring state Illinois reported almost $1.4 billion in cannabis sales in 2021, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

View the drafted constitutional amendment here.