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 month that 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.”