Indiana made some advancement this year in the arena of marijuana reform by legalizing CBD oil for epilepsy patients. Yet the state’s prosecuting attorneys hope that lawmakers will refuse to take this concept to the next level in 2018 by establishing a more comprehensive medical marijuana program.
Recently, the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys, Inc fired off a letter to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse begging the agency to officially come out in opposition of the herb, even for medical purposes. The letter, which is signed by executive secretary David Powell, suggests that legalization for any reason would be a detriment to state because it “increases the risk of opioid abuse… impaired driving and increased use among youth.”
The letter goes on to say that, “Marijuana is not medicine and information purporting that marijuana is medicine is based on half-truths and anecdotal evidence.”
“We strongly believe both medicinal and recreational marijuana legalization are wrong for Indiana,” the letter reads. “We urge you to stake a stand against these policies that would cause further harm to communities already suffering from the devastating effects of drug abuse.”
This is some of the same noise that emerged earlier this year at the hands of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
In an op-ed published by the Indianapolis Star, Hill cautioned lawmakers not to be charmed by the marijuana lobby, which he believes has been working to cleverly persuade legislative forces to bring the cannabis plant out of its prohibitionary prison. As it stands, Hill says he believes the “odds are in favor of legalization” in the Hoosier State.
But that would not be a good move, Hill went on to say, because marijuana legalization causes “long-term risks to health, safety, education and employment, especially among those who start young.” He wrote that lawmakers need not be “so easily distracted,” by the possible return on a cannabis investment and that they fight against the possibility of bringing on even more “negative consequences” as those attributed to alcohol and tobacco.
Although it has not been difficult to keep the marijuana debate out of the halls of the Indiana Legislature over the past several years, that changed in early 2017 when Republican lawmakers finally gave in to an ultra-restrictive bill giving some seizure patients access to CBD. In the end, Governor Eric Holcomb said he had no problem signing the legislation into law because it “does not put us on a slippery slope to legalizing marijuana.”
Or does it?
Indiana’s CBD law has perhaps received the most media attention out of all the other states that have passed similar reforms. That’s because even with the substance being legal, law enforcement agencies all over the state have continued to bust patients and raid stores that carry CBD products. For months, it seems that every time CBD was mentioned in the press, a tale about the Indiana police was destined to follow.
But it is those highly publicized shakedowns that could inspire a more liberal outlook on the subject of marijuana legalization when the state legislature reconvenes in January.
What’s more is the state now has Republican backing on this issue.
In fact, it was revealed earlier this year that State Representative Jim Lucas, a lawmakers who fights for gun rights and makes derogatory comments about women, plans to submit a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in the coming session designed to give patients with a variety of health issues access to cannabis.
His goal is to develop a program that not only gives people an alternative to prescription drugs, but one that also stops the Indiana police for harassing them over CBD.
“We have a responsibility to at least investigate it and determine the facts, and if there is something positive out there, we have to pursue that,” Lucas told The Indy Channel back in August.
The recent raids and arrests are “forcing us to consider things that might have been taboo or off-limits just a few months or even a year ago,” he added.
So it is conceivable that the Indiana Legislature might sink its teeth into the issue of medical marijuana in 2018. The only foreseeable problem is getting Governor Holcomb to side with the plan.
Prior to being elected, Holcomb, complaining about how advocates were always trying to move medicinal laws into the realm of recreational, said, “If only medical marijuana would suffice, then I’d entertain that as an option. But right now, in the world that we’re living in, expanding or legalizing drugs of this nature isn’t on my list.”
As a betting man, the fact that the state’s prosecuting attorneys and other key officials are pushing so hard to convince lawmakers that marijuana legalization is a bad idea, even before a bill has been filed, suggests a comprehensive medical marijuana program may actually have a fighting chance at making its way through legislative channels in the coming months.
TELL US, do you think Indiana will legalize medical marijuana?