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Indiana’s Legal Cannabis Bids Are Stalling

The future of cannabis in Indiana is unclear


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) —  Renewed attempts in Indiana to legalize at least some marijuana use face cloudy futures with state lawmakers. Bills are pending to allow medical or recreational marijuana use in Indiana. But it doesn’t seem the GOP-dominated Legislature will challenge Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s opposition even as neighboring Michigan, Illinois and Ohio have taken legalization steps.

Several bills aimed at legalizing small amounts of marijuana or permitting medical marijuana use have been filed by lawmakers ranging from liberal Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage to libertarian-leaning Republican Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour.

Both have been outspoken legalization advocates for several years, but Holcomb, Republican legislative leaders and major business groups remain firm against such steps. Holcomb says he’ll remain opposed as long as the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means it’s not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

That’s even though Michigan voters in November approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use and Illinois’ new governor backs recreational marijuana. Both states already allow medical marijuana and Ohio’s first medical marijuana sales began Wednesday. About two-thirds of states have legalized some form of medical marijuana.

Lucas said Holcomb’s opposition is a “huge obstacle,” but points to the backing of military veterans groups for medical marijuana as a sign of growing public support.

“Even if we don’t do anything, we’re going to be forced to deal with literally thousands of Hoosiers that every intellectually honest person knows are going to go to Michigan or Illinois and buy this,” he said.

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Sen. Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso, chairman of Senate health committee, said he’s uncomfortable with looking at allowing marijuana use while it remains illegal under federal law. He said the prospects of a marijuana legalization bill clearing the General Assembly are thin.

“I would say there are still a significant number of minds that would need to be changed before that could happen,” Charbonneau said.

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