Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates differ greatly when it comes to whether or not the state should legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
Last night, during the third and final debate in Evansville, the two primary candidates gunning for the position as the Hoosier State’s leading governing force discussed a variety of popular issues, including controlling the heroin epidemic and the legalization of medical marijuana.
When asked his position on whether cannabis should be used for medicinal use, Republican Eric Holcomb said he probably would not consider such action because he worries that advocates would not stop pressing the issue until it was legal in a manner similar to Colorado.
“If only medical marijuana would suffice, then I’d entertain that as an option,” he said. “But right now, in the world that we’re living in, expanding or legalizing drugs of this nature isn’t on my list.”
However, Democrat John Gregg, whose father died from cancer of the esophagus, took a more rational stance to the question, saying that he was definitely onboard with allowing patients to use marijuana.
“If it would be a benefit to a patient, they should be allowed to use it,” he said.
It has been said that Indiana will be one of the last states to legalize marijuana, even if it is only for medicinal use, because the Republican-controlled legislature simply will not give any cannabis-related bill a chance at any hearing. For the past several years, lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at establishing a modest medical marijuana program, but none of those bills have been allowed to go before committee.
“Too many legislators are still afraid of it,” state Senator Karen Tallian, the primary Democrat pushing for statewide pot reform, told CNHI in a recent interview.
But the times are changing, with the latest numbers showing that Indiana is more than ready to legalize medical marijuana. A new WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana Poll, which was published earlier this month, reveals an impressive 73 percent of the state’s population believes marijuana should be made legal across the state for medicinal use.
As it stands, Indiana is entirely surrounded by states that have legalized medical marijuana. Illinois, Michigan, and, most recently, Ohio have all created some version of a comprehensive plan to give patients access to this medicine, while even Kentucky has a restrictive CBD law on the books. However, lawmakers in the Bluegrass State are at least working to get the state legislature on board with a plan to get a more comprehensive program up and running – something could gain some serious traction in 2017.
Interestingly, both candidates said last night that they wanted to do more to control the opioid epidemic currently putting the state further into the gutter. Yet, no one so much as mentioned the latest data, publish last month in the American Journal of Public Health, showing opioid use is on the decline in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Researcher in that study concluded that, “in states with medical marijuana laws, fewer individuals are using opioids.”
Senator Tallian is expected to introduce a new bill in 2017 aimed at legalizing a statewide medical marijuana program. There is hope that the overwhelming public support on this issue will allow cannabis legislation to finally receive a little consideration inside the halls of the State Capitol.