Indiana Republicans Warming Up to Medical Marijuana

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It has been said that Indiana’s Republican-dominated legislature is mostly to blame for refusing to consider measures calling for statewide marijuana reform. Yet, there is now some evidence to suggest that the party’s “hell no” attitude toward the legalization of marijuana may be starting to relax to some degree, a potential shift in opinion that could put the state on the path to establishing a comprehensive medical marijuana program in 2018.

It was recently revealed that Republican Representative Jim Lucas is planning to introduce a piece of legislation in the upcoming session designed to put a fully functional medical marijuana law on the books.

Lucas—who has not exactly been a fan–favorite within the liberal community since posting derogatory comments to a social media page about women “learning how not to be” rape victims—is apparently drafting a measure that will give Indiana patients with a wide range of health conditions access to full strength cannabis medicine.

The lawmaker has apparently spent the summer speaking to people in his district about the cannabis issue, learning about how the herb has helped them live better, more productive lives.

He recently told the Indy Channel that the state legislature has “a responsibility to at least investigate it and determine the facts, and if there is something positive out there, we have to pursue that.”

In addition to the bill Lucas plans to get behind, Democratic Representative Sue Errington is also planning to submit a medical marijuana proposal for consideration in the 2018 session.

Errington attempted to push a similar measure through in early 2017, but, like almost every other piece of pot-related legislation filed in the State Capitol over the years, it did not receive a hearing.

Over the weekend, both Lucas and Errington appeared at a town hall meeting hosted by the Indiana Chapter of NORML.

Speaking in front of a crowd of about 100 people, the two lawmakers agreed that medical marijuana was no longer a partisan issue in the Hoosier State.

“It’s not a Republican or Democrat thing. Liberal or conservative. This is a human rights issue,” Lucas said, according to FOX 59. “We’ve seen the proof that it works. We heard personal testimony from people who have personally benefited from this product, and I’m for it 100 percent.”

Errington, who is one of only a few Indiana lawmakers to support the marijuana movement in recent years, told those in attendance that it was great to finally have some support from the party that has spent most sessions ignoring the cause.

“Up to now, it’s mostly been Democratic voices, and we’re a minority in the Indiana Statehouse, so to have someone come out as strongly as Representative Lucas has, it’s really great to have a partner who wants to work with those of us who have been in the trenches,” Errington said.

Although Indiana has not exactly been in a hurry to put more progressive drug policies to work, the state did just legalize a restrictive medical marijuana program for patients with epilepsy.

While far from functional, the new law, which went into effect July 2017, gives patients and their families access to a non-intoxicating form of cannabis oil. The distribution system, which will give registered patients the ability to buy this medicine from local pharmacies, is supposed to be in place at some point later next year.

There is speculation that the state’s ultra-light medical marijuana experiment could inspire legislative forces to take the issue a step further. However, the cards are likely stacked against this happening, especially considering that no other CBD–only state has taken steps to put a more comprehensive program into action.

Nevertheless, the medical marijuana debate is expected to take center stage next year within the halls of the Indiana’s legislature.

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