Indiana Democrats Plan to Push for Medical, Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Next Year
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Indiana Democrats Plan to Push for Medical, Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Next Year

The party expressed its support for policy reform ahead of Organizational Day for legislators.

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November 16, 2021

Indiana Democrats plan to push for medical and adult-use cannabis legalization during next year’s legislative session.

The party expressed its support for policy reform Nov. 15, ahead of Organizational Day for legislators on Nov. 16, according to a WTHR report.

“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, [but] Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether,” Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, told the news outlet. “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."

Nearly 80% of Indiana residents support legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, adult-use or both, the news outlet reported. However, those convicted of cannabis possession in the state could face a 180-day jail sentence or a $1,000 fine under current law.

Supporters say legalization would generate tax revenue and create jobs, in turn boosting the state’s economy, and the issue seems to have bipartisan support, according to WTHR.

Republican State Rep. Jim Lucas told the news outlet that he is drafting two cannabis-related bills for next year, one that would legalize medical cannabis and one that would legalize adult-use.

“This is an issue that’s not political,” Lucas said. “It’s not Democrat vs. Republican [or] conservative vs. liberal. This is a person issue.”

Lawmakers have proposed cannabis legalization several times in the past, although Gov. Eric Holcomb has expressed his opposition to medical and adult-use cannabis legalization due to federal prohibition.

RELATED: What the Re-Election of Governors in Vermont, New Hampshire and Indiana Means for the States’ Cannabis Policies

In 2020, Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian filed three bills as part of a cannabis reform package in the Senate, while Lucas introduced a decriminalization proposal in the House.

Tallian then filed two legalization bills in 2021 that would have legalized and regulated medical and adult-use cannabis, as well as hemp. Rep. Vanessa Summers also introduced an adult-use proposal in the House this year, although all three bills ultimately stalled.

At the local level, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced in 2019 that it will no longer prosecute “simple marijuana” charges, according to WTHR. The move has resulted in hundreds of cases being dismissed for those possessing an ounce or less of cannabis, the news outlet reported.