Staying firmly behind the times is as traditional in Indiana as basketball, racing, and wearing shorts in 45-degree weather. Having just legalized Sunday alcohol sales this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Indiana was also last to legalize cannabis—unless the handful of lobbyists that ultimately control our vice industry cut themselves a big enough piece. From puritans to profiteers, here are the top reasons pot isn’t legal in Indiana.
David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC)
The IPAC has made their stance well known on the issue of legalization in the Hoosier state, and continues to cling to D.A.R.E-era “science” classifying marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Powell also loves the tautology of a Schedule I substance lacking a rich bed of scientific study data, as many of his Republican colleagues also do: “It doesn’t lower crime rates. It doesn’t lower opiate use. In fact, it makes opiate use three times more likely if you’re using marijuana. But, nobody wants to talk about the data really and the research. They want to talk about the anecdotes.”
Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana House, pocket pet of GEO Group
Bosma has been historically against any and all legalization efforts, even in the wake of Indiana’s critically underfunded DCS system and marijuana legalization success in other states. Don’t get your hopes up on his interest in a study, either: Bosma’s position is unlikely to change as long as private prison lobbies continue to pour money into his campaign. “I think we need to take a look at the effects,” Bosma said. “And I support a study.”
GEO Group, just one of many evil private prison empires
The Florida-based private prison corporation has been dumping cash into state elections for years, and Indiana is one of their top 10 favorite states to spend on. Not only has Bosma taken GEO’s money, but they helped get then-governor Mike Pence elected. In turn, he lowered the felony possession threshold from a half-ounce to a third of an ounce of marijuana, and signed a state contract with the group guaranteeing 90% prison capacity at all times. Current Governor Eric Holcomb hasn’t mentioned any plans to change the law.
Jim Purucker, Lobbyist, general sleazebag
Thanks to Indiana’s puritanical roots, the ratchet-tight laws governing our vices are ultimately controlled by the handful of lobbyists who get their handpicked leaders elected, and none are quite as slimy as Jim Purucker. Like your sister’s shady boyfriend, he offered politicians on both sides of the aisle an “investment opportunity” in a “technology company” that would ultimately control the marijuana market in the state. The scheme was uncovered by an IndyStar investigation after an unusual line of vaguely-worded legislation was added to a state bill that could have been used to create a marijuana monopoly in Indiana. Once the Republican supermajority heard of the change, they killed the bill entirely.
State Senator Travis Holdman, or the other guy
Ultra-conservative Holdman attempted to be the one Republican in the Indiana Senate with a tiny bit of sense by drafting a law that would have protected transgender people from discrimination. The bill also had huge loopholes for religious orgs, but Holdman was unable to convince his colleagues and constituents of the basic human rights of trans people, and instead opted to whine in his local paper about how hard it was for him to fail at growing a spine. We can similarly expect Holdman to fold like a lawn chair against his Northern Indiana “don’t drink, don’t dance” base when legalization comes up again next session — if Holdman can hold onto his seat with a challenge from an even more conservative candidate.
Senator Dan Coats, living fossil
NORML gave Coats a D- rating, and Coat’s voting record indicates he is unlikely to vote apart from the 1950s aspirations of his party. Another big fan of “vintage” science on marijuana, Coats clings to the line about gateway drugs and correlation-does-not-equal-causation studies of what other substances marijuana smokers are “more likely” to be involved in.
Senator Joe Donnelly, the pleather sofa of Democrats
Donnelly has milquetoasted himself into red state danger by attempting to court centrists, and in doing so has found himself defending cannabis prohibition like the Footloose townsfolk defended the dancing ban. Donnelly could pull himself out of trouble by siding with the 60+ percent of Hoosiers who support legalization, but he’s decided to bet on the hand-wringing church ladies and lethargic brand of “progressivism” that has historically defined Hoosier Democrats.
“I do not believe it to be prudent to decriminalize marijuana at this time.”
The Indiana State Legislature, Confederacy of Dunces
On a state level, Indiana suffers from the hard-right malaise that suffuses all states with bright red legislatures. Even if, by some miracle, Indiana’s Republican party woke up to the obvious economic potential of a legal cannabis market, the utterly incompetent den of thieves would find themselves unable to pass the law. Even with legislative omnipotence, the IN GOP managed to run out of time to pass their own agenda, requiring a one-day special session that cost taxpayers $30,000, and also just so happened to eliminate the chance for public testimony on the four leftover bills. As the very last state in the whole union to legalize Sunday alcohol sales just this year (a deal that was ultimately struck between two lobbying groups), the chances of Indiana coming to its senses even on decriminalization, let alone legalization, is not a likely short-term outcome.
Indiana AG Curtis Hill, Indiana’s square Dad
Curtis Hill is the kid in every class that asks the teacher for more homework before picking up an extra hall monitor shift. A big fan of wasting taxpayer dollars on lawsuits with predictable ends, Hill fancies himself the very definition of law enforcement and pushed back against several county prosecutors who declined to fight pointless anti-abortion lawsuits. While the state continues to be ravaged by the heroin epidemic, Hill refuses to see the treatment-funding forest for the burning, sticky trees, and he wears his membership jacket to the Head in the Sand Club with pride: “Legalizing marijuana is a road to nowhere good.”
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