Could Hoosiers Take a Toke Soon?

While November was a big month for marijuana wins with Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah all passing medical or recreational cannabis initiatives, there are still many states that haven’t jumped on the marijuana bandwagon.

Take Indiana for example. It’s a highly conservative state, the home of Mike Pence, and it has taken a hard line against marijuana up to this point. That’s in spite of the fact that it’s surrounded by cannabis-approved states on all sides: Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, with Kentucky moving toward legalization as well.

So, the question is, “How long can Indiana hold out?” According to some marijuana advocates in the state, Hoosier legislatures won’t be able to ignore the tidal wave for much longer, especially now that Michigan has fully legalized adult-use marijuana.

In fact, a day after the election in Michigan, marijuana came up at a meeting of law enforcement leaders in Indiana with concerns about impaired driving, and that’s just the start. Some advocates predict that, in the next year or two, Indiana could pass its own marijuana laws, following in the footsteps of its neighbors.

At least, that’s the hope of Democratic Indiana Senator Karen Tallian, who told the South Bend Tribune, “It will happen eventually” when talking about legalization.

When Tallian first joined the Senate in 2005, she was quickly dubbed the “marijuana senator” thanks to her early study of state marijuana policy and conversations on possession reform. And, in the beginning, she was the only lawmaker to fight for marijuana. But now, there are more than a dozen legislators working toward it.

Tallian has made a steady, if gradual, move toward legalization over the last few years. So, in next year’s session, she plans to introduce a bill that would legalize possession of fewer than two ounces and allow for medical use. And it has a chance of passing with bi-partisan support.

That’s as it should be according to Republican Representative Jim Lucas who sees marijuana not as a “political thing” but as simply “the right thing.” After doing his own research on using CBD oil for seizure treatments, and even using cannabis himself during a visit to Colorado, he can’t deny that it works. And he feels that regulating and taxing marijuana makes more sense than prohibiting it, but there are still many legislators who don’t agree.

According to David Phipps, the communications director of the Indiana branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Indianapolis, the state is close, but not there yet. “It would pass the House floor,” he predicted to the South Bend Tribune. “It’s the Senate where we need to gain a few more votes.”

The problem is that many lawmakers in Indiana are still wary of legalizing medical even with positive testimonies for its use.

“This has been an inch by inch movement in Indiana and, frankly, I just don’t know why they’re so reticent,” Tallian said.

The only thing Hoosiers can do at this point is to keep advocating, keep an ear out and vote when it comes time. The movement is coming; it’s just a matter of time.

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