Indiana may be well on its way to becoming the next state to legalize a modest medical marijuana program. But make no mistake, it would be one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Earlier this week, the Indiana Senate puts its seal of approval on a piece of legislation designed to give epilepsy patients the freedom to use a non-intoxicating form of cannabis oil know as cannabidiol or CBD. The measure (Senate Bill 327) is the first marijuana-related bill to so much as receive a hearing inside the halls of the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly. It now goes before the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Medicinal use of cannabidiol. Defines ‘cannabidiol,’ and provides an affirmative defense to possession of cannabidiol if the person or the person’s child has been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, the cannabidiol contains no THC, and other specified conditions are met,” reads the bill’s synopsis.

While the reach of the proposal is rather measly in comparison to the comprehensive programs launched in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia, it is positive that the issue of marijuana reform is finally being taken seriously among the state’s legislative forces.

Over the years, lawmakers, like Senator Karen Tallian, have repeatedly proposed similar offerings, but House and Senate gatekeepers have done everything in their power to prevent them from seeing the light of day. So it makes sense that cannabis advocates were pleasantly surprised to learn late last month that a marijuana bill had finally received a hearing in committee and was going to get a turn with the full Senate.

It is important to understand that the situation is a bit different this year than in times past.

Indiana lawmakers are feeling a great deal of pressure from influential groups, such as the Indiana America Legion, to get serious about putting a medical marijuana law on the books. There is even some speculation that the voice of the largest veterans organization in the Hoosier State, which represents over 80,000 veterans, could expedite the legal status of marijuana and perhaps even lend itself to the passing of more comprehensive reforms.

“Legislators listen to veterans,” said Jeff Staker, an Indiana Marine who has been lobbying this year to legalize medical marijuana. “We’ve got to get their attention, and who better to do that than veterans?”

Although it has been said that Indiana will be one of the last states to legalize the leaf, even if it is for medicinal purposes, the issue is certainly heating up to the point where it can no longer be ignored. A recent poll found that 73 percent of the Hoosier population now believes that medical marijuana should be made legal for a variety of health conditions.

Unfortunately, the subject of legal marijuana does not exactly have the support of Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who said last year during his campaign that “expanding or legalizing drugs of this nature isn’t on my list.”

Nevertheless, if all goes according to plan with respect to SB327, patients suffering from epilepsy could soon have the ability to purchase cannabis oil (containing no more than 0.3 percent THC) from pharmacies across the state.

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