ndiana’s Republican-dominated legislature has all but refused to give any marijuana-related bill so much as a hearing. But now a new poll finds that this anti-pot attitude goes against the grain of the voters. An impressive majority of Hoosiers supports the legalization of medical marijuana.
That’s according to the latest WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana Poll, published last Friday, which shows 73 percent of Indiana residents believe marijuana should be legalized throughout the state for medicinal purposes. Only 25 percent of the respondents opposed this kind of reform to the state’s drug laws. Two percent were undecided.
Indiana lawmakers have been trying for years to get the state legislature to hear various proposals aimed at legalizing marijuana. But none of those measures, not even one pushing for the decriminalization of minor possession, have so much as received a hearing.
“Too many legislators are still afraid of it,” said state Senator Karen Tallian, the key Democrat who has been pushing for statewide pot reform, during a recent interview with CNHI.
Last year, Senator Tallian introduced a proposal aimed at legalizing a modest medical marijuana program. The bill, which Tallian called a “very small, very careful first step,” would have created a medicinal cannabis pilot program for a handful of patients suffering from specific debilitating conditions— a set up similar to the program currently underway in Illinois. However, Senate Chairwoman Patricia Miller announced soon after the bill was filed that it would not get the opportunity to be heard.
As it stands, Indiana is almost completely surrounded by states that have taken action by way of their respective state legislatures to legalize medical marijuana. Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio have all given patients with a variety of health conditions the freedom to use cannabis medicine.
In Kentucky, while a comprehensive medical marijuana bill has gained little traction throughout the course of 2016, the issue is definitely a hot topic of discussion—providing advocates with hope that a medical marijuana law will soon see the light of day. The state already has a restrictive CBD law on the books, which allows certain patients to participate in a research program.
But Indiana appears hell bent on maintaining a prohibitionary standard – at least for now.
According to an article published earlier this year by Civilized, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the man selected as running mate by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, is still not ready to consider any legislation geared toward marijuana reform. But he is allegedly coming around with respect to medical marijuana.
“I’m not there yet. But I can see it,” Pence reportedly told attorney Fred Pfenninger, who serves as president for the Indiana chapter of RAMP, at a dinner event in Indianapolis.
As with the turn of every new year, it is expected that lawmakers, including Senator Tallian, will introduce proposals aimed at changing Indiana’s marijuana laws. There is hope that with more states set to legalize the leaf in the upcoming November election that a medical marijuana bill will at least get through to committee in 2017 for a fair debate.
After all, with the latest polls showing Hoosier support on the issue at more than 70 percent, which is higher than the national average (consistently between 50 and 60 percent), legislative gatekeepers will soon have no choice but to start giving some serious consideration to proposals seeking cannabis reform.