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Law Indiana MMJ


Leaf Dawg
Please do not turn this into a political/govt. bashing thread.

I'm a little skeptical of this happening in my state based on comments by our new state Attorney General. He said, "We need to solve the marijuana problem to solve the heroin problem". Hmm...Really Mr.AGl?

But, I try, try, to stay optimistic that some day we'll at least get medical mj here..


The market for medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is growing rapidly, as lawmakers in more states pass legislation legalizing it. Already, 28 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, and eight states have passed recreational marijuana laws, too. According to the latest research by GreenWave Advisors, those numbers are about to climb significantly.

A lot of money is at stake

States have a lot of incentive to legalize marijuana. According to Karnes, retail sales of marijuana clocked in at $6.5 billion last year, up from $4.8 billion in 2015. That means a lot of money is ending up in state tax coffers.

GreenWave estimates that the marijuana black market is worth $36 billion and that passage of marijuana-friendly laws nationally could lead to $30 billion in marijuana sales in 2021. Based on those assumptions, the potential tailwinds for tax revenue over the next five years should be strong, and that could factor greatly into whether or not pro-pot laws pass.
Indiana Asylum Members,

I am asking you to please consider writing, emailing or calling your state representative, senators and congress persons to say you support, at the very least, MMJ.
I have written and called both Joe Donnelly and Jackie Walorski.
I have also called and written my state representative for my district. I know there are several state representatives that are willing to support at the very least MMJ. One of which is Karen Tallian from Indiana's 4th district. I have spoken to her and she was very supportive and has sponsored a bill in support of MMJ.

Rep. Tallian's bill


A tenacious Indiana lawmaker is making a push once again in the 2017 session to legalize medical marijuana.

Democratic Senator Karen Tallian recently submitted a measure to the Indiana General Assembly, which seeks the creation of a statewide medical marijuana program.

The proposal (Senate Bill 255) would allow patients with a variety of health conditions, including migraines and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to have access to cannabis as long as they have a recommendation from a licensed physician. It would also give patients suffering from “any persistent or chronic illness or condition” to access the program so long as a doctor believes marijuana could provide some benefit.

I understand the sensitivity of this subject. If we as constituents stay quiet then our legislatures won't know where we stand on this issue.

Please call your representative and tell them to support Rep. Tallian's Senate Bill 255
Please do not turn this into a political/govt. bashing thread.
Let me reiterate. Keep any and all political 'slamming' out of this. From our rules:

Controversial subjects (i.e. politics, religion..) are strongly discouraged. They tend to create disharmony. Leave your drama at the door
So let's keep this about steps being taken to legalize. Thanks. :smile:
Well, it's a start I guess. Indiana has approved CBD oil. A long way to go, but I'll keep fighting :BangHead:. The funny thing is, I have seen CBD oil for sale for almost two years in small natural food shops.

Both chambers of Indiana Legislature approve CBD oil bills


The House voted to pass the bill unanimously 95-0 Thursday. The Senate also advanced their measure 35-13 in a vote later in the day.

The Legislature has long resisted efforts to allow the use of cannabidiol oil, commonly referred to as CBD. But that appears to have changed this year.

The oil cannot get patients high but contains compounds that studies suggest lessen the severity of seizures. Many parents of children who have treatment-resistant epilepsy have testified in support during hearings.
5 things to know about a secretive Indiana company with a whiff of marijuana

The deal: Indiana lobbyists and others invested in a company that — according to some of the investors — is being positioned to profit if marijuana is ever legalized in Indiana. Shares sold for $1,000 each, some investors said.

The company: Hoosier Emerging Technologies was formed in 2012. It is registered to alcohol and gaming lobbyist Jim Purucker. He pushed for Indiana’s vaping law. His clients include the Indiana Vapor Co., Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Indiana, Indiana Towing and Wrecker Association and the Indiana Motor Truck Association. He also represents New Centaur, the casino and horse-racing business led by Rod Ratcliff.

The investors: Among the investors in Hoosier Emerging Technologies are:

  • Kip Tew, a former Indiana Democratic Party chairman.
  • Rex Early, a former Indiana Republican Party chairman.
  • Mike Phillips, former Indiana House Speaker, and a son of his.
  • Paul Mannweiler, former Indiana House speaker.
Several investors said there may be dozens of total investors.

The vaping connection: Some people with a stake in Hoosier Emerging Technologies tried but failed in legislative attempts to create a license to distribute marijuana in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 and 2016, Purucker and other lobbyists then pushed successfully for vaping legislation that allowed a single company to control who could seek a license to manufacture e-liquid used in electronic smoking devices.

The unusual law drew the attention of the FBI and Indiana lawmakers are working to overhaul it.

The confusion: Is Hoosier Emerging Technologies about marijuana or is it not?

  • Tew said: “It had to do with an opportunity to make money with this company if marijuana was ever legalized in this state.”
  • Early said: “What I thought they were doing, as far as I know, is try to get a lock on the vapor thing.” He said he never heard about a marijuana angle.
  • Phillips said marijuana was never mentioned to him. He said he thought the company was investing in online horse race betting technology.
  • Mannweiler said neither vaping nor marijuana were discussed when he decided to put money into the company.
Indiana marijuana case leads to court restricting police seizures
U.S. District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson has partially halted the seizure of vehicles in drug cases

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Two court rulings have limited police seizures in the state of Indiana.

U.S. District Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson has partially halted the seizure of vehicles in drug cases and related crimes in the state. She said state law violates due process because it doesn’t allow individuals to challenge a forfeiture before property is seized.

State law allows law enforcement to hold a vehicle without taking action for up to 180 days. If the state does file a forfeiture claim, the vehicle can be held indefinitely until the case is completed.

Leroy Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, obstruction of justice and dealing marijuana. His vehicle was seized in September, and Washington requested the vehicle be returned in November.

Jeff Cardella, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the state on behalf of Washington in November.

Related stories
“This is an injustice that I have wanted to change for several years,” Cardella said.

Magnus-Stinson said vehicles are an important form of personal property because they’re needed for transportation and to earn a living. Authorities must now provide a pre-forfeiture hearing when seizing vehicles suspected of being used in criminal activity.

The state Court of Appeals has also ruled that an alert from a drug-sniffing dog isn’t enough evidence to seize cash that may be tied to drug trafficking.

Indianapolis police discovered more than $30,000 in cash in two parcels in 2015 after a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the packages. They seized the money even though they didn’t find any controlled substances or records of drug trafficking connected to packages.

Judge John Baker said a positive alert from a drug dog isn’t enough to tie the money to illegal activity because studies show that up to 90 percent of U.S. currency has drug residue.

“Any of those individuals could conceivably have possessed and/or used the unidentified controlled substance, either legally or illegally, with or without an intent to commit drug trafficking,” Baker said.

The Legislature has an interim study committee reviewing the state’s forfeiture laws
Indiana...another hot bed of liberalism (not) but still moving toward legalization. Ole' Jefferson seems to be aiming to be the dinosaur standing on this issue.

Medical marijuana advocates call legalization a moral and nonpartisan issue
For a group of medical cannabis advocates, Saturday was about educating the public so they could, in turn, educate their state lawmakers.

At the Indiana Medical Cannabis Town Hall Meeting, lawmakers, professors, veterans and other medical marijuana advocates came together at the Indiana State Library.

They spoke to a room full of people who, judging from the amount of clapping for speakers and the pro-medical cannabis agenda, were largely supporters. During the three-plus-hour town hall, which was hosted by Indiana NORML, attendance ranged from about 60 to 200 as people came and went.

In the fight to expand the use of medical cannabis, advocates wanted to explain scientific studies and personal stories behind why they believe it should be a legitimate choice. Advocate and emcee David Phipps, Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) and Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) cast the issue as a moral and nonpartisan one.

Buy Photo
People listened to the results of scientific studies and personal stories about using medical cannabis during the Indiana Medical Cannabis Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. (Photo: Domenica Bongiovanni/IndyStar)

"Today, it's an important event," Phipps said. "More than anything, we need to get it across to those legislators who are dead set against this for the state of Indiana. We need to make sure they are aware of the facts behind it and not the propaganda that they've been fed for far too long by some within the statehouse."

Medical cannabis advocates had a small victory in April when a bill passed that allows for epilepsy patients who have struggled with prescription drugs to use cannabidiol to treat their condition. But their goal has been to expand that to give people an alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs, Phipps said.

"We are realistically looking at full medical cannabis potentially as soon as 2019 and adding to the existing bill this coming assembly," Phipps said.

To that end, Errington said she was working on an in-depth bill that allows for the safe, accessible use of medical cannabis for a large variety of conditions. Lucas said he began supporting the issue after Indiana State excise police raided a Fresh Thyme and took products containing CBD oil.

"I look forward to this fight," Lucas said. "I love a good fight."

Medical cannabis advocates said they believe spreading findings from scientific studies is key to changing minds. Former State Representative Tom Knollman, who served as a Republican, said he became an advocate after struggling with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

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Audience members talked and asked questions of speaker Thomas Clark, a biology professor at Indiana University South Bend, who spoke about medical cannabis during the Indiana Medical Cannabis Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. (Photo: Domenica Bongiovanni/IndyStar)

"Those of you who suffer (from) medical conditions, I feel for you," Knollman said.

Veterans, including Indiana American Legion representative John Crosby, echoed the sentiment, citing medical marijuana as more helpful for PTSD and pain than other prescription drugs.

The bulk of the meeting comprised presentations by Thomas Clark, departmental chair and biology professor from Indiana University South Bend, and Chad Bartalone, a paramedic and paramedic science professor at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in South Bend.

Bartalone focused on medical cannabis and opioids. Several speakers said that the former's success at treating chronic pain can be used as a tool to reduce opioid addiction.

Clark said he reviewed the research behind several studies of medical marijuana. For example, citing studies by GT Carter, B. Chakravarti and S. Ostadhadi, he found that cannabis therapy alleviates appetite loss, nausea, bone loss and improves mood for those going through chemotherapy.

"The question is not can something have harmful effects, it's how do you weigh the harmful effects versus the beneficial effects," Clark said.

Like anything else, Clark said too much marijuana is harmful, and he recommended kids seek other therapeutic options.

People who say medicinal use is one step closer to recreational use "are prolonging the suffering in this state, and that ... language needs to stop, and we need to at least open our ears to the new data that's come out," Phipps said
Founder of Indianapolis’ First Church of Cannabis Running for Governor of Indiana
Bill Levin is vying for a nomination from the Libertarian Party.


Bill Levin, the founder of the Indianapolis First Church of Cannabis, announced on Monday that he is running for governor of Indiana. Levin will seek the nomination of the state’s Libertarian Party in his bid for the statehouse, according to a report in local media.

The legalization of cannabis will be a central theme of Levin’s campaign for governor. Currently, all cannabis products with the exception of CBD, which was legalized last year, are illegal under Indiana State law.

Levin said in a phone interview with High Times that he is running for governor because he believes that he can win.

“It’s real simple,” he said. “It’s love and human compassion versus greed and selfishness. It’s an easy win. Our state needs love, compassion, and good health right now.”

Politics As Usual Thwarts Legalization
According to Levin, the people of Indiana support cannabis legalization. Prohibition would have ended long ago if the question had been put to the voters, he believes. If elected, he plans to seek a path to cannabis legalization, either through the legislature or by giving the people the power to make the decision through a statewide election.

“If we were a ballot initiative state we would’ve had cannabis legal 10 years ago,” he said. “But unfortunately, the GOP controls the state and nobody is talking about ballot initiatives. When I’m elected governor, ballot initiative is one of the things I am going to put on point. We will have it so the people of this state can decide what their future is, rather than the corporations who buy our politicians.”

Levin said he will also make industrial pollution and Indiana’s environment an issue in the race for governor.

“We’re the bottom of the barrel when it comes to polluted states,” said Levin. “We’re number 48. We’re poisoning our people. Our rivers, our air quality are poisoning people here and our state is letting these companies run.”

Church Challenged Prohibition with Lawsuit
Levin founded the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis in 2015 in response to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill widely seen as an attack on LGBTQ rights that was signed into law by Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor of Indiana at the time.

After registering with the I.R.S. as a nonprofit organization, the First Church of Cannabis sued for the legalization of cannabis under the RFRA, claiming that the prohibition of marijuana violated the religious freedom of the church’s members to use cannabis sacramentally. The suit was unsuccessful, however, and a final appeal in the case was denied in January.

The Libertarian Party of Indiana will hold its statewide convention next spring. In 2016, Libertarian candidate Rex Bell ran for governor of Indiana, pulling in 1.34 percent of the votes cast in the contest.
Marion County will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession, officials say

Only a week into his temporary term as top prosecutor in Marion County, Ryan Mears is moving his office in a direction that could, for better or worse, have a significant impact on the community.

Mears announced Monday that his office will no longer prosecute certain marijuana possession offenses in Marion County. If a person possesses less than one ounce of marijuana, that person will not face formal charges from the prosecutor's office, effective immediately. The policy is aimed at diverting resources to violent crimes, such as murder and sexual assault.

It’s a surprising, sweeping change. But Mears wouldn’t call it bold.

“I don't think doing the right thing is a bold thing to do,” he told IndyStar. “I've been a prosecutor for 12 years, I have the experience of seeing what causes violent crime. And over the course of 12 years, I can tell you, small amounts of marijuana is not our problem.”

Mears said the decision only covers simple possession. He expects the one-ounce amount to differentiate users from dealers, which his office still plans to prosecute.

"We're going to continue to prosecute individuals who use marijuana during the course of an accident or if they're impaired for marijuana, those types of cases," he said. "And also public consumption. I don't want people to get the idea that if you walk down to the monument, people are free to light up in public. That's not what this is about. This is about making sure that we treat everybody fairly."

Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced marijuana possession offenses will no longer be prosecuted in Marion County during a press conference on Monday, Sept., 30, 2019. If it is less than one ounce of marijuana, we are not going to file that charge, Mears said. And that's effective today.

Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced marijuana possession offenses will no longer be prosecuted in Marion County during a press conference on Monday, Sept., 30, 2019. "If it is less than one ounce of marijuana, we are not going to file that charge," Mears said. "And that's effective today." (Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar)

Police departments respond
While the prosecutor's office may not be pursuing charges on low-level marijuana possession, possession of marijuana remains a crime in Indiana.

And police officers can still write a summons or arrest people who are committing that crime.

Lawrence police will continue with "business as usual," said Lawrence Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff in a statement.

"Lawrence police officers, like most Indiana law enforcement officers, are able to use their discretion in taking misdemeanor enforcement action, just like the Marion County prosecutor can use prosecutorial discretion when making final charging decisions," Woodruff said. "We’re continuing business as usual for the officers patrolling the streets and neighborhoods of Lawrence."

That's in line with how Speedway is handling the new policy, Speedway Lt. Jim Thiele said Monday evening.

And that appears to be in line with IMPD's approach, too.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach was less clear in a public statement. Asked for comment on Monday, he said in a statement: "This morning's announcement was the first the department had heard about this shift in policy. We are continuing to have discussions with our state, local and federal partners about next steps."

In a memo sent to his officers, though, Roach emphasized that the new policy does not take precedent over Indiana law.

He encouraged officers to continue using their discretion on when to write a summons or make an arrest on marijuana possession.

The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police supports Roach's stance, said President Rick Snyder.

"While we recognize and value prosecutorial discretion, our law enforcement officers have significant concerns any time a single person elects to unilaterally not enforce a state law as a matter of practice or policy," Snyder said in a statement. "We are attempting to better understand the basis for this decision and any potential unintended outcomes. In the interim, it is our understanding the IMPD Chief of Police has directed officers to continue to enforce the laws as proscribed by the State of Indiana and we strongly concur."

It may not ultimately matter what actions the officers take.

"I can't tell IMPD what to do," Mears told IndyStar. "But the decision to file charges or not is something that's up to the discretion of the Marion County prosecutor's office. And we don't believe that's good public policy."

More on the new policy
At a news conference on Monday morning, and in an interview with IndyStar, Mears stressed that his policy is not an endorsement of marijuana use. Rather, it's an acknowledgement that criminalizing use of the drug does not address the city's "terrible violence issue," Mears said. He believes there's no direct link between simple possession and violent crime.

"Let's get those officers involved in trying to track down the people who are involved in non-fatal shootings and homicides, as opposed to worrying about basic possession of marijuana cases."

What you should know: About new rules for marijuana possession in Marion County

Mears says this is the first time the Marion County prosecutor's office has decided to stop prosecuting a drug offense, but the policy is in line with how the office has been treating marijuana cases in the past few years. In 2017, the office dismissed 65% of marijuana possession cases, Mears said. Last year, the number rose to 74%. So far this year, that number is 81%, he said.

Mears believes that criminalizing these offenses "disproportionately impacts people of color," and is a burden on the jails.

"It clogs up the court calendars, and it disrupts people's lives," he said. "When you get arrested and you get charged, and you have to come Downtown, that's a stressful situation for anyone. It makes people miss work. They have to pay fees, or pay for an attorney. If we're going to end up dismissing 81 or 82% of the cases, it does not make sense to file a case."

Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal, who endorsed Mears as prosecutor, said in a statement Monday that low-level, nonviolent offenders often remain jailed for several days, "at a significant cost to taxpayers."

"The new jail, currently under construction as a part of the Justice Complex, is not designed to hold many more inmates than are currently held between the combined public and private jails today. City leaders have repeatedly stated that we need to find ways to use fewer jail cells, and not more."

To accomplish that, Forestal said, officials have to change arresting procedures, which includes diverting addicts and the mentally ill into the healthcare system.

"As Marion County Sheriff, I welcome Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ decision not to file charges for possession of marijuana," Forestal said.

There are currently about 393 pending marijuana-related cases (misdemeanors), Mears said. Of those cases, he said, the ones that meet the criteria will be dismissed.

Mears: It's about fairness, not politics
Mears, who stepped into the role of prosecutor afterTerry Curry stepped down last week, said he's unconcerned with how the announcement will affect his bid to have the position permanently.

"This is not a political decision," he said. "This is a moral decision. And I have a moral responsibility to make sure everybody is treated fairly under the law. And the continuing enforcement of marijuana laws is unjust and unfair to people of color. So I'm not going to do it."

The decision was applauded Monday by Mears' challenger, Tim Moriarty, an attorney working as special counsel to Mayor Joe Hogsett.

"Truly reforming our county's criminal justice system will require a holistic approach, and there's no doubt that the enforcement of marijuana possession charges have created inequity — especially for communities of color," Moriarty's campaign said in a statement.

Moriarty said that if elected Marion County prosecutor, he would keep the policy change in place.

Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced marijuana possession offenses will no longer be prosecuted in Marion County during a press conference on Monday, Sept., 30, 2019. If it is less than one ounce of marijuana, we are not going to file that charge, Mears said. And that's effective today.

Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced marijuana possession offenses will no longer be prosecuted in Marion County during a press conference on Monday, Sept., 30, 2019. "If it is less than one ounce of marijuana, we are not going to file that charge," Mears said. "And that's effective today." (Photo: Matt Kryger/IndyStar)

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, said in a statement that she has begun drafting legislation for the 2020 session to decriminalize marijuana possession in Indiana.

"It is past time for our jail cells to be cleared of Hoosiers who have committed no other crime than be in possession of a harmless substance, that actually has real medical benefits," the statement said.

Mears acknowledged that making marijuana legal in Indiana is ultimately lawmakers' decision. He says his job is to prioritize what his office will prosecute.

"I woke up today, and there were two murders last night," he said. "That's entirely too much."

Ann Sutton, chief counsel at the Marion County Public Defender Agency, welcomed the news from the prosecutor's office.

"There's plenty of more serious things that we need to be dealing with and low-level marijuana use is not one of them," Sutton said. "Less than an ounce is just personal recreational use."

Hogsett, who has endorsed Moriarty, appeared to be caught off-guard by Mears' announcement. A spokeswoman said the "abrupt announcement" needs "further discussion."

Ryan Mears, interim Marion County Prosecutor, in the department offices in Downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Mears is filling in for Terry Curry, who has retired.

Ryan Mears, interim Marion County Prosecutor, in the department offices in Downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Mears is filling in for Terry Curry, who has retired. (Photo: Robert Scheer/IndyStar)

“Over the last three years, Mayor Hogsett has focused on reforming our community’s criminal justice system, prioritizing treatment for those suffering from challenges related to mental health and addiction," said Taylor Shaffer, a Hogsett spokeswoman. "While today’s abrupt announcement by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office necessitates further discussion between criminal justice partners, it’s clear that our community’s focus should be on holding perpetrators of violent crime accountable and keeping those who don't belong in jail, out.”

State Sen. Jim Merritt, a Republican mayoral candidate who endorsed Mears for prosecutor, said in a statement released by his campaign that he supports "any effort to review the fairness of our criminal justice system."

Council President Vop Osili, a Democrat, acknowledged his surprise in a statement released Monday evening.

"The process of criminal justice reform is one to which I have long been deeply committed. Today’s unanticipated announcement by the acting Marion County Prosecutor illustrates the role prosecutorial discretion can play in that larger process," Osili said. "As council president, I look forward to collaborating with our law enforcement partners and Council colleagues on the implications of today’s announcement, and continuing to work with Marion County residents and stakeholders as we pursue meaningful criminal justice reform together.

'Lax' drug enforcement
In a statement, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said he's "concerned" that the policy will attract to Indianapolis people seeking communities where drug enforcement is "lax."

"It seems to me a curious strategy to put out a welcome mat for lawbreakers in a community already facing challenges related to crime, homelessness and other social problems stemming from drug abuse," the statement said.

Hill said he respects the fact that prosecutors have "absolute discretion," in deciding when to file criminal charges. He added, though, that prosecutors typically do this on a case-by-case basis, "rather than proclaiming that in all cases they will ignore a particular state law not to their liking."

When asked if he anticipates any harmful effects from the policy, Mears told IndyStar he believes it will have a positive impact on public safety — not just by focusing more resources on violence, but also by possibly preventing other incidents that could happen as a result of prosecuting marijuana possession.

"(Drivers) take off from the police because they don't want to get arrested for marijuana," Mears said. "You have people who start moving around in the car. Are they reaching to hide the marijuana that's inside the vehicle? That makes the officers nervous, like they're reaching for a gun.

"And so to me, this is going to lessen the confrontation that's going to be involved in some of these stops, because people now know that if it is a small amount of marijuana, that they are not going to be at risk for going to jail that night."

AG candidate Weinzapfel calls for legalization of marijuana in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s Democratic nominee for attorney general, Jonathan Weinzapfel, on Monday called for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults in Indiana.

A former state legislator and former mayor of Evansville made the announcement in a news release. He says legalizing marijuana would bring in much-needed tax dollars and relieve burdens on the police and the court system.

Weinzapfel had addressed just last week on News 8’s “All INdiana Politics” show. He cited Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ decision in September 2019 to no longer prosecutor many marijuana possession cases.

On the “All INdiana Politics” show, Weinzapfel said, “Well, one of the things I’ve talked about is the need to decriminalize marijuana. I like what County Prosecutor Ryan Mears is doing here in Indiana. I think that is policy that could be extended, should be extended on a statewide basis, especially (for) people who are using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Why would we be throwing veterans in jail who are using it for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or people with a terminal illness who are using marijuana to take care of some of the pain they’re experiencing. Why wouldn’t we make it available for medicinal purposes and make sure that our laws are rational and keep up with what’s happening throughout the country?”

The release said Michigan has collected more than $35 million in new tax revenues from the sale of marijuana while Illinois has collected more than $100 million. The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy nonprofit, estimates that Indiana could generate upwards of $171 million annually from legalization, according to the release.
Well, glad that Indiana is absolutely NOT one of my planned vacation destinations.

Indiana’s New Roadside Drug Testing Tool Will Create Influx Of Marijuana Arrests

Unlike the breathalyzer, which can detect alcohol impairment within seconds, Indiana’s new drug test experiment only shows that a motorist has used drugs.

As more states work to loosen their marijuana laws, and in many cases, make it part of legal society, some are still clinging to antiquated Drug War concepts in an attempt to disrupt progress. Indiana is one of those states. Not only are officials refusing to consider legitimizing cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, they are also, at the same time, imposing policies that will undoubtedly lead to more marijuana-related arrests.

The state recently announced that law enforcement agencies are now using a new roadside drug detection tool to stop drugged driving. However, the test is seriously flawed and could put innocent people in jail.

More than 50 police forces all over the state (including Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lake County and Muncie) have started using a roadside drug detection device that can determine, within minutes, whether a person has illegal substances coursing through their veins.

The device, known as the SoToxa Mobile Test System, is supposed to sniff out drivers high on cocaine, opiates, meth, and, of course, marijuana. The test’s manufacturer touts its ability to flag stoned motorists within five minutes by testing their saliva. The problem with this technology is that it scans explicitly for the presence of illegal drugs, not intoxication, making it possible for more sober motorists throughout Indiana to be prosecuted for stoned driving in 2021.

Marijuana DUIs

Photo by kaboompics via Pixabay

Not only is this roadside test unfair, but it’s also supported by a mostly unbeatable system.

Indiana has a zero-tolerance policy for drugged driving, as outlined in Indiana Code Annotated, Section 9-30-5-1 and Section 9-30-5-2. No matter how much of an illegal substance a motorist has in their body, they are going to jail for stoned driving if a cop pulls them over and asks them to take a sobriety test.

A first offense is the equivalent of a DUI for alcohol. It is punishable with up to 60 days in jail and fines reaching $500.

But in most cases, jail isn’t the concern; it’s the compromise to staying among society that takes its toll. Typically, the offender can escape two months in county lockup by agreeing to a year-long probationary term. The stipulations of that agreement often come with community service hours, a license suspension, drug and alcohol classes, fees and fines, random drug tests, and monthly visits with a probation officer. It’s a total abstinence program, too, so not only does the offender have to refrain from using marijuana, but they also have to stay away from alcohol.

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Photo by bluegame/Getty Images

And the program is expensive. The average DUI conviction in Indiana can cost a person in upwards of $10,000 by the time it is all said and done. Failing to uphold any part of the agreement (not paying fees on schedule or failing a drug test) can result in further disciplinary action, including jail time.

Ever since neighboring states like Illinois and Michigan legalized marijuana for recreational use, there has been a lot of pressure on Indiana to do the same. The argument is that Hoosiers will inevitably traffic marijuana into Indiana from legal states, which could run law enforcement ragged.

Cannabis advocates believe Indiana should legalize it, giving police forces more time to focus on serious crime and allow the state to benefit from millions in tax revenue. But neither the State Legislature nor Governor Eric Holcomb is interested in this plan. Instead, their attitude seems to be more about increased enforcement — creating ways to simplify how cops make marijuana-related arrests. After all, prohibition can be as big of a money-maker as legalization. Police agencies, prisons, and even politicians continue to make millions of dollars by keeping marijuana in the underground. Meanwhile, otherwise law-abiding, tax paying citizens often get caught paying the tab.

But legal experts say you can fight this charge.

“The good news is that this isn’t your typical DUI case because you haven’t been accused of driving with alcohol in your system; you’ve been accused of having marijuana in your system,” according to the website of Terre Haute-based attorney Rowdy G. Williams. “There isn’t a breathalyzer that can detect the amounts of marijuana you have in your system, and because marijuana can remain in your system for an extended period of time if you are a habitual user, you might not have been high at the time of your arrest. Your lawyer can also argue that your stop was unlawful if law enforcement had no probable cause to pull you over.”

Indiana State Senator Files Two Cannabis Reform Bills

An Indiana state Senator has introduced two bills to decriminalize and regulate marijuana for adults. The two measures, SB 87 and SB 223, were introduced in the Indiana Senate by Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian last week.

SB 87 would establish a cannabis compliance commission to regulate all forms of cannabis that have been legalized in Indiana, including industrial hemp and low-THC hemp extracts. The second bill, SB 223, would decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults. The measure would also repeal marijuana possession as a level 6 felony.

In a television interview with local media, Tallian said that she has been unsuccessfully trying to reform Indiana’s cannabis laws for a decade. She is hoping that the continued success of marijuana initiatives in other states will improve the chances for change for Indiana in 2020.

“It’s a stupid waste of time that we do this … we give young people criminal records for something that is legal in, what, a third of the nation,” Tallian said.

Tallian said in a statement posted to Facebook that is time to address the state’s unjust marijuana laws, noting the racial disparities that exist in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition statutes.

“Arrests for marijuana possession made up 45% of all drug arrests from 2010-2018 in Indiana. Contextually, Black Hoosiers are 3.5x more likely to be arrested for the possession of marijuana,” she said. “Our neighboring states have made efforts to address unjust marijuana laws, and it’s time for us to do the same.”

“That’s why I authored SB 87 and 223 this session, to allow for the regulation and legalization of marijuana in our state,” she added. “I will be fighting for these bills because legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. It’s time to move our state forward.”

Cannabis Reform A Hard Sell In Indiana​

Last fall, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Indiana attorney general, Jonathan Weinzapfel, campaigned in part on changing the state’s marijuana laws.

“As Indiana works to come out of this pandemic stronger than before, legalizing cannabis for adults just makes sense,” said Weinzapfel in a statement posted to Twitter during the campaign. “Not only will it help bring in much-needed tax dollars, it will also relieve unnecessary burdens on police and the court system while reducing jail overcrowding across the state. This will allow law enforcement agencies to focus on serious crimes and keeping our communities safe.”

Cannabis writer and Indiana resident Mike Adams said at the time that as a farming state, it would make sense to include a legal cannabis industry in Indiana’s “plow and pick repertoire” as a way to stimulate an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. But he isn’t convinced that will happen any time soon.

“Unfortunately, the chances of it being taken seriously in the Indiana General Assembly aren’t very good. Not as long as the Republicans continue their reign of terror,” Adams wrote in an email to High Times. “And Governor Holcomb is still dead set against it — although he admits to using pot back in college.”

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb succeeded in his bid for reelection in the November election with more than 56% of the vote. Adams said that Holcomb’s defeat would have been the “best-case scenario” for cannabis reform in Indiana.

20% of Indiana's hemp crop was destroyed last year because it had too much THC

Fifth-generation farmer Mark Davidson spent his entire life in chronic pain — until he tried CBD oil, and it changed his life.

Davidson jumped on board when Indiana legalized growing hemp for CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant that is used for relieving pain, anxiety and other health issues, hoping to help others who were suffering.

But then his best-laid plans went up in smoke. Literally.

In 2019, Davidson was forced to burn 1.5 acres of his hemp crop.

“We had to burn more than $100,000 worth of product, which was heartbreaking and disheartening,” he said. “It was like seeing all this medicine going up in smoke.”

Davidson’s hemp crop had tested “hot,” meaning it contained more than the legal amount of THC, the chemical in cannabis that gets people high. Per rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if the cannabis plant has 0.3% THC or less, it’s considered hemp and legal in the state of Indiana. Any higher, it’s illegal.

Staying under this threshold means walking a fine line for Hoosier farmers, who are learning to grow a new crop and navigating an industry that’s less than 3 years old.

It's a fine line that's easy to cross.

Almost 20% of the state’s hemp crop was destroyed last year for THC levels between 0.41% and 13%, according to Don Robison, seed administrator with the Office of Indiana State Chemist. Although it’s hard to say for sure, his highest estimates guess this amounts to about 150 acres total.

In many cases, farmers let their crops approach higher THC concentrations because the quantity of the valuable CBD is directly tied to the quantity of THC in the plant. For a farmer to ensure lower THC levels, they may also be sacrificing potential profit.

“The only way to stay below 0.3% THC is to harvest it way before it’s mature,” said Davidson, who runs Davidson Greenhouse and Nursery and Heritage Farmacy in Crawfordsville. “It would be like picking your apples when they’re green as grass, there’s no benefit to harvesting early.”

Hemp was initially thought to be a lucrative opportunity for farmers struggling with tight margins. But the few that shell out tens of thousands of dollars on costly hemp seeds also risk losing their crop at the end of the season.

The problem is not specific to Indiana. Many states use the 0.3% threshold, which is a federal limit, so hemp farmers across the U.S. are affected. That said, Hoosier farmers say there are particular challenges here due to shifting regulation.

Davidson is among the many farmers around the country calling for the 0.3% threshold to be increased to 1%. That amount is unlikely to get users high, as most recreational cannabis products have closer to 20% or 30% THC. The psychoactive ingredients, farmers point out, can also be refined out of final CBD products before they are sold.

“It doesn’t change any of the true psychoactive effects of the plant, but it's a massive change in regulation for us staying under compliance,” said Brady Mouzin, a Vincennes farmer who had to destroy his hemp crop two years ago. “That would be massively helpful for farmers.”

When your crop tests 'hot'

When the state learns of a “hot” crop, Robison said, they are required to take steps to destroy it. If that crop tested just barely over the 0.3% limit, the state seed office allows the farmer to destroy it themselves and provide evidence. But if it tests substantially higher, the State Police are called in, he said.

This can be a huge financial blow to a hemp farmer, because hemp seeds aren’t cheap.

Hemp can cost as much as $1 per seed, Robison said, meaning the cost of planting and maintaining an acre of hemp could amount to $8,000 to $12,000. Counting a loss in profit, a farmer who had to burn an acre of hemp could be out as much as $20,000.

"With soybeans and corn, you're in the hundreds of dollars per acre in input costs and profitability possibilities," Robison said. "Hemp, you're in the tens of thousands."

And to make matters worse, going “hot” can happen fast.

Mouzin and his family, who run Mouzin Brothers Farms, were one of the early adopters to planting hemp when it was legalized in Indiana. Their first year, they harvested the crop early to avoid going “hot,” and didn’t get as much CBD output as they could have, so the next year they waited just a bit longer.

Mouzin said they sent 10 samples in for testing each week, at $75 per test. But the sample results were delayed by about 10 days, and when the weather is hot, the plants mature rapidly. Their most recent sample showed them in the clear, but when state regulators came around to test their crop, some of it had surpassed the 0.3% threshold.

In the end, they had to destroy half of their crop.

“It was a tough blow for us,” Mouzin said. “We were pretty frustrated with basically how much effort we put into staying in compliance, and still we went over.”

Even the first hemp adopters in Indiana have only been working with the plant for a handful of years, making it hard for farmers to gauge their plants’ maturity. And as cannabis has faced tumultuous regulation in the U.S., even researchers are catching up on understanding the plant.

In hopes of helping Hoosier growers better understand their crops, researchers at Purdue University contribute to the Midwest Hemp Cannabis Database, a resource with information on THC and CBD levels of different cannabis strains.

Marguerite Bolt, Purdue hemp extension specialist, said farmers send samples in from their crops for testing and the results are added to the larger database. It’s a way for Midwesterners to research the potential yield, compliance and profitability of the strains they’re considering growing, she said.

“It’s sort of like citizen science, and it can make a huge contribution to have all these data points,” Bolt said. “It is super valuable data.”

A budding industry

The hemp industry is growing in Indiana. Between 2019 and last year, the acreage of hemp registered for farming in Indiana grew from 5,300 to 8,900. In the same time, the square footage of indoor growing grew from 500,000 square feet to 1.7 million.

The new industry is attractive for farmers hoping to break into a possibly lucrative business. But it also requires a learning curve, and legislators are trying to keep up

Since hemp was legalized in Indiana in 2018, regulations for the new commodity have fluctuated. Notably, in 2019 lawmakers decided to ban hemp flower, the bud and most profitable part of the plant, after state police raised concerns that it would make it difficult to uphold marijuana laws. Hemp flower is indistinguishable from cannabis flower with higher THC levels.

The ban caused disruption for some hemp farmers, who were hoping to cash in on the flower, which can be hundreds of times more valuable than CBD oil.

Alan Davidson started getting ready to sell hemp flower crop for the 2019 season in January. He purchased seeds, labor and nutrients — and then the legislature banned the flower, meaning his crop was going to be worth substantially less than he had planned for.

“You get all the way, almost to the end and you think you’re going to be able to compete,” he said, “and then the state comes in and pulls the rug out from underneath you.”

Davidson, who runs Greener Side Gardens in Kokomo and has his own CBD product line, said he’s now planning to plant about a 10th of what he had, in part out of fear that more regulatory changes will happen.

“It’s just left so much uncertainty, constantly trying to pivot, readapt and reassess how we can move forward,” he said. “It definitely had potential, but it’s been very challenging.”

Hemp, an industry predicted to grow 34% annually by 2026, was supposed to be an added source of income for farmers struggling with falling prices for corn and soybeans or hoping to recover from recent trade wars and natural disasters. But the risk of going “hot” or losing profit from regulatory changes may be dissuading farmers from taking up on the opportunity of the industry.

“It’s not like destroying a row crop,” Mouzin said. “It’s much, much more expensive.”

Many farmers who test “hot” are still staying well under 1% THC levels, which is why they’re pushing for that to be the new cap.

The 0.3% THC limit is based on a 1970s research paper, Bolt said, but it's largely been used out of context and was never meant to guide regulation. Recent research has shown psychoactive effects of THC tend to kick in around 1%, but most recreational cannabis contains closer to 30%.

Changes may be coming to Indiana as soon as this year that could ease the burden on farmers when it comes to THC.

Bolt said the state is in the process of resubmitting its state agriculture plan to the USDA, and it could include an option for farmers who test "hot" to request a retest. That would allow them to homogenize their sample — mix in high-content THC parts of the plant with low-content THC parts — and resubmit it in hopes of passing the 0.3% rule.

This may ease the burden on some hemp growers, Bolt said, especially as she's skeptical that the 0.3% limit would be raised nationally anytime soon.

"I'm not sure how likely it is to move forward," Bolt said. "I don't know if it would even be in this administration."

Growing pains

The thought of inadvertently producing a crop that must be destroyed is worrisome enough. But that's not the only issue of concern for hemp growers.

Heading into the start of the growing season this spring, the Office of Indiana State Chemist is warning growers to be aware of hemp seed scams, as reports of untrustworthy vendors are reaching the office.

"We've seen that type of issue consistently from the beginning," Robison said. "What we've seen lately is some willful opposition to follow the law."

Some customers have purchased seeds that result in cannabis with too-high THC levels. Others, like Robert Colangelo, never get their seeds at all.

Colangelo, a hemp grower in Portage, Indiana, made a deal with a seed seller last year that he thought was a reputable source, but when time came to deliver, he disappeared. He didn’t take any of Colangelo’s money, thankfully, but it left him in the lurch for the people he was supposed to provide seedlings for.

“Once people are relying on you, and then those seeds are not there, it really creates a scramble,” he said. “And if you miss the planting deadlines, it really puts everybody at a disadvantage. Either they get their crop in later, which means it’ll grow smaller, or they’re not going to be able to get it in at all.”

To avoid scams, Bolt suggests using the Midwest Hemp database as a source for checking the qualities of the hemp strains you might be buying. And Robison’s office compiled a list of legitimate seed sellers for farmers and growers to depend on.

The list, which can be found online here, is a proactive measure, Robison said, but he doesn't think scams like these will be a long-term issue.

"I think in five years," he said, "we'll have a lot of these problems behind us."

Indiana Lawmaker Welcomes Public Feedback on Medical Cannabis

Indiana State Rep. Sue Errington is holding an event that welcomes the public’s feedback regarding medical cannabis legalization in the state.

A week after the state party announced a full-fledged push to legalize cannabis in Indiana, a Democratic lawmaker there is ready to stump for pot’s medical benefits.

Indiana State Rep. Sue Errington announced this week that she will host “a Community Talking Circle” in her hometown of Muncie next Monday, December 6, “to hear public feedback on legalizing medical cannabis in Indiana.”

The event comes on the heels of the Indiana Democratic Party announcement last monththat it was throwing “its full support for the effort to legalize recreational cannabis across the state,” and that its members would aim to pass the new cannabis law in the upcoming legislative session.

“Legalizing marijuana in some form is supported by about 80-percent of Hoosiers and would provide the opportunity to create an additional revenue stream for the state, create good-paying jobs, develop a long-term cash crop for Indiana’s ag and business communities, provide medicinal opportunities for people like the state’s veterans and seniors, and could start the process of expunging records for simple possession across the state,” the party announced in a statement at the time.

The party cited a recent poll showing that 78 percent of Indianans support cannabis legalization, and pointed to the successful legalization efforts in nearby Illinois and Michigan as a proof of concept.

In the announcement, the state party said that Hoosiers are currently pouring “millions of dollars to Michigan and Illinois economies—where cannabis is legalized,” and that ending prohibition in Indiana would make it so the state has “a guaranteed cash crop in the long-term for the state’s businesses and farming communities, creating a revenue stream for the General Assembly to use in future sessions.”

“Hoosiers have seen the impact that recreational and medicinal cannabis use has made on the states around us, and not only are they contributing to neighboring states’ economies, Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether. The Republican supermajority at the statehouse is losing its economic common sense if they do not join Democrats this session in making this opportunity a winner for the Hoosier State,” said Mike Schmuhl, the chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.

The announcement from Hoosier State Democrats was made the day before “Organization Day,” a symbolic opening day of the legislative calendar when legislators meet and make preparations. The legislative session is slated to begin in January.

Errington said she encourages “anyone interested, whether in support or opposition of legalization, to attend our Community Talking Circle so that we can have a full, open conversation.”

“The General Assembly needs to hear your voice as we consider legalization in the upcoming legislative session,” she said.

The fight for cannabis reform has long been one of Errington’s biggest policy goals. On her campaign website, she lamented the thousands of cannabis arrests that occur annually in Indiana, saying that such enforcement came “at a huge financial cost to individuals and the state for a substance widely considered less harmful than alcohol.”

“Hoosiers suffering from pain and a variety of chronic illnesses should not be subject to arrest and incarceration for possessing cannabis, which is legally available in 33 other states and the District of Columbia,” Errington has stated on her website. “Nor should we continue to fill our prisons with people convicted of minor marijuana possession. The enforcement of marijuana laws falls heaviest on the young and minorities and has created egregious racial disparities in the prison population.”

In the press release promoting the Talking Circle, Errington noted that nearly 40 states have legalized medical cannabis, saying the “reality is that medical cannabis is becoming an accepted and preferred method of treatment throughout the country.”

“Medical cannabis is a safe, non-addictive alternative to opioids that could benefit Hoosiers who live with chronic pain and anxiety disorders, including our brave veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder,” Errington said. “Those who have sacrificed so much for our state deserve an effective treatment for their pain, rather than a potential criminal record.”

Indiana GOP Lawmaker Plans Medical Marijuana Bill As Democrats Push Full Recreational Legalization

“It polls higher than any other issue. We’ve seen 38 other states step up and do the right thing for their citizens. We know it saves lives. We know it offers a better quality of life.”

By Margaret Menge, The Center Square

Democrats in Indiana have launched a campaign to legalize marijuana in the state and appealed to business-friendly Republicans to join to help the state’s economy.

There is some support from Republicans.

“I have a medical cannabis bill ready to go,” Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said.

He said the bill will be similar to the one he introduced in the last session of the Indiana General Assembly, which would permit the use of medical marijuana by people with “serious medical conditions” as determined by a doctor, and would permit the “cultivation, testing, processing, transportation and dispensing” of medical marijuana by people who hold a valid permit issued by the state.

It also would put the Indiana Department of Health in charge of implementing and enforcing the medical marijuana program.

Indiana is one of just a handful of states that has not legalized medical marijuana.

“It polls higher than any other issue,” Lucas said. “We’ve seen 38 other states step up and do the right thing for their citizens. We know it saves lives. We know it offers a better quality of life.”

In 2016, the national American Legion, which is based in Indianapolis, called on Congress to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act and reclassify it to “recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value.”

The Legion has also pushed for more research to be done on marijuana related to its potential in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular.

The Indiana American Legion, however, has not taken a position on the issue, and did not discuss the bill Lucas introduced in the last session, spokesperson Josh Marshall said.

He said the issue would have to be reviewed by the organization’s executive committee before any action were taken on the issue in the upcoming session of the legislature, which begins January 3.

Meanwhile, Indiana Democrats are pushing to get the issue on the table.

Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, is set to lead a “community talking circle” at a pizza place in Muncie today to hear from the public about legalizing medical marijuana.

“The reality is that medical cannabis is becoming an accepted and preferred method of treatment throughout the country,” Errington said in a statement from the Indiana House Democratic Caucus on November 29. “Medical cannabis is a safe, non-addictive alternative to opioids that could benefit Hoosiers who live with chronic pain and anxiety disorders, including our brave veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Those who have sacrificed so much for our state deserve an effective treatment for their pain, rather than a potential criminal record.”

Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses of the legislature and hold every statewide office. But legislative leaders—some of them—have appeared more open on the issue in recent years.

In 2018, the Republican floor leader in the Indiana House of Representatives, Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, authored a resolution calling for an interim study committee to research medical marijuana.

“Hoosiers rightfully want to know what direction Indiana will take,” he said at the time. “I believe it is wise of policymakers to carefully gather public and professional input.”

Lehman told Fox59 last month that he thinks there’s “always room for discussion” about medical marijuana, but that he thought the federal government would have to act first, before Indiana takes action.

This story was first published by The Center Square.

Anti-Marijuana Indiana Governor Backs Proposal To Set Up Legalization Rules If Federal Prohibition Ends

The governor of Indiana isn’t personally in support of marijuana legalization, but he says he’s on board with having lawmakers pass a bill to set up the regulatory infrastructure for a legal cannabis market. That said, he’d only be open to enacting the reform after federal prohibition ends.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) was asked about cannabis policy during an end-of-the-year interview with Indy Politics that was released on Tuesday. Specifically, he was asked whether he’d “object to Indiana lawmakers at least starting the process” of setting up a licensing structure for legal cannabis businesses so the state can “flip the switch” when federal law changes.

“I don’t mind that at all,” the governor replied.

It would be a unique legislative process that no other legal marijuana state has pursued, with lawmakers hashing out rules on issues like licensing and taxes without a clear timeline for implementation that hinges on a possible future action by Congress.

The GOP governor’s support for the proposal was welcomed by the Indiana Democratic party, which recently mounted a push for marijuana legalization and called on state lawmakers to enact the reform.

Rep. Sue Errington (D) said she is working on a bill along the lines of what the governor says he’s open to. She recently hosted a town hall event to hear from constituents on the issue.

If the GOP-controlled legislature fails to pass a legalization bill during the 2022 session, the party organization said Democrats are prepared to campaign on the issue, leveraging the popularity of ending prohibition among Indiana voters.

But while Holcomb endorsed the idea of setting the state up to legalize, he’s made it abundantly clear that it’s not his top priority and he will give deference to the federal government, refusing to enact reform until a federal policy change comes.

“We’re talking about something that is illegal, and it’s just at the core of me—I’ve said this, I’ve taken a couple blows—it’s to uphold and defend the laws of the state and nation,” the governor said. “I don’t get to pick and choose. Even if I agreed with it, I couldn’t get myself to just look the other way as a lot of states have. But just because a lot of other states have doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.”

In the meantime, Holcomb said he does want to see more research into cannabis.

“I would encourage research, proper research, to be conducted,” he said. “We’ve got Indiana University and Purdue University that agree to participate in—an ag school, a medical school—to do the proper research as they would with any other controlled substance and get the [Food and Drug Administration] involved in and get real data.”

The governor similarly talked about his interest in exploring the medical benefits of marijuana during a separate interview with WANE-TV this week.

A 2018 poll that found that about 80 percent of Indianans favor legalizing cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes, and 78 percent agreed that simple possession should be decriminalized.

Adding pressure to enact reform in Indiana is the fact that neighboring Illinois and Michigan have each legalized marijuana for adult use and Ohio has a medical cannabis program. Illinois retailers have already sold more than $1 billion worth of legal adult-use cannabis so far in 2021

Indiana GOP Lawmaker To File Marijuana Legalization Bill As Democrats Step Up Reform Push

A Republican Indiana lawmaker who serves in House leadership has announced she’ll be introducing a bill to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use in the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R), who has worked to raise awareness about substance misuse since her sons struggled with addiction, says she recognizes the obstacles of enacting cannabis reform in the conservative legislature. But she’s hoping that leadership will at least allow a committee hearing on her forthcoming proposal.

The measure would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older and set up a regulated system of sales, mirroring neighboring Michigan’s marijuana law. It would also establish a medical cannabis program in the state.

While the text is not publicly available yet, the lawmaker told Indianapolis Business Journal that the bill would create a state commission to regulate the market, issue cannabis business licenses and set a tax on marijuana sales with revenue supporting public health initiatives.

Ziemke says that part of the reason she decided to sponsor the reform legislation is because she believes it will help divert people from the illicit market where they might be exposed to other drugs.

One of her sons, who is eight years in recovery from a heroin addiction, encouraged her to pursue the reform for that reason.

“So much of it also comes from when I called my son and I said, you know, ‘what do you think about me authoring this cannabis bill?’ And he said, ‘You should do it.’ He said, ‘because you know those folks will go to a dealer to get pot and could end up leaving one day with meth,’” Ziemke said. “I want a safe product that’s out there that’s controlled.”

The lawmaker also emphasized the importance of appropriating revenue for public health purposes.

“We are so good at so much. But when it comes to public health, we are horrible,” she said. “So if that would generate monies that could go more into public health for our state, that’s how I envisioned it for both public health and mental health and addiction.”

The legislator, who serves as assistant majority caucus chair, is also concerned that if Indiana doesn’t move on the issue, it will continue to lose out to surrounding states like Illinois that already have regulated cannabis programs.

The first test for the bill will be getting a hearing in the House Public Policy Committee, where cannabis legislation has historically stalled. And while she hasn’t received any commitments yet, Ziemke said she’s had conversations about the proposal with House Speaker Todd Huston (R), Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R) and the governor, asking them to be open-minded.

Sixty percent of Ziemke’s constituents in her district said they support medical cannabis legalization, according to a 2021 legislative survey that her office conducted.

A statewide 2018 poll that found that about 80 percent of Indianans favor legalizing cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes, and 78 percent agreed that simple possession should be decriminalized.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) isn’t supportive of legalization, but he did recently say that he’s on board with having lawmakers pass legislation to set up the regulatory infrastructure for a legal cannabis market in the event that federal prohibition is ended.

Rep. Sue Errington (D) said she is working on a separate bill along the lines of what the governor says he’s open to.

The Indiana Democratic party, meanwhile, is mounting a push for marijuana legalizationand calling on state lawmakers to enact the reform.

If the GOP-controlled legislature fails to pass a legalization bill during the 2022 session, the party organization said Democrats are prepared to campaign on the issue, leveraging the popularity of ending prohibition among Indiana voters.

Indianapolis police officer facing charges after marijuana growing operation found inside home

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis police officer is facing charges related to growing marijuana, according to police and court records.

Christina Slack, a 22-year-veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, was charged Tuesday with possession of marijuana growing or cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana where a defendant knows it is growing on-premise and fails to destroy, according to IMPD and court records.

IMPD Special Investigation Unit detectives began to investigate the officer after officers were called on Dec. 27, 2021, to a disturbance in the 2900 block of South Pasadena Street, according to a release from IMPD. Slack was off-duty at the time.

After detectives finished their investigation, the Marion County Prosecutor's Office filed charges.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said hearing about the charges was a disappointment for him and the entire department.

“At the same time, I appreciate the work of detectives within the department who investigated this incident to the fullest,” he said in the release.

Slack was most recently appointed to IMPD's North District. Slack will be suspended pending and a recommendation of termination will be submitted to the Civilian Police Merit Board.

An initial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 26.

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