Although it has been said that Indiana would be one of the last states to put any kind of marijuana law on the books, both chambers of the State Legislature took action this week on a bill aimed at allowing a specific group of patients to have access to non-intoxicating cannabis oil.
On Thursday, both the House and Senate put their seal of approval on proposals designed to give epilepsy patients the freedom to use cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis derivative that has been shown to decrease the frequency of seizures. The medical marijuana approved by Indiana lawmakers would be devoid of THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.
“You can smoke 700 acres and all you’re going to get is really red eyes and probably a really sick cold,” Republican Senator James Tomes told The Statehouse File. “But you’re not going to get a buzz.”
This is the first time Indiana’s legislative forces have given any consideration to a bill pertaining to marijuana. It was the restrictive nature of the proposals, and lack of THC, that persuaded lawmakers to give them a fair shot.
The bills call for patients to have tried at least two different prescription medications before a physician is allowed to offer them a recommendation for cannabis oil.
Interestingly, Senator Karen Tallian, the lawmaker who has been pushing marijuana reform for the past several years, said she is not a big fan of this legislation because it is sloppy and will do very little to actually benefit the people of Indiana.
“I don’t like it and I think it’s a mess,” Tallian told the Statehouse File. “I am going to vote yes anyway because it’s the only mess around.”
So while Indiana seems to be well on its way to passing one of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the nation, it seems impossible at this juncture to get state lawmakers to support anything calling for more comprehensive reforms. The ideological roadblock comes to a head mostly because Indiana legislators are still concerned that legal weed will lead to more drug problems and crime.
The current toe-in-the-water approach to a medical marijuana program is not going to be a salvation’s wing for most patients living in Indiana, but it is conceivable that, once it is implemented, lawmakers will start to see how a more detailed plan could benefit the overall health and economic well being of the entire state. From there, whenever that time may come, the fight for legalization in the Hoosier State may start to get easier, at least to some degree.
For now, it is up to a conference committee to negotiate a single bill from the House and Senate measures. The two chambers presently disagree on how much THC should be allowed in cannabis oil.
Once they come to an agreement, the bill will be sent to the desk of Governor Eric Holcomb for a signature or veto.