Bills to legalize marijuana proposed in Indiana House, Senate

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In the State of Indiana, neither medical nor recreational use of cannabis is legal. In January 2023, bills that would decriminalize cannabis use were proposed in both the House of Representatives and Senate: House Bill 1039: Medical and Adult Use Cannabis and Senate Bill 237: Medical Cannabis.

HB 1039 was authored by Republican Rep. Jake Teshka and co-authored by Republican Reps. Steve Bartels and Doug Miller, as well as Democrat Rep. Justin Moed. The bill permits the recreational use of cannabis by persons at least 21 years of age and those with a serious medical condition, but only after marijuana is “removed as a federal schedule 1 controlled substance.” 

The bill also created a cannabis program for the manufacturing and sale of products, and the Indiana Cannabis Commission to oversee the program. Money from taxes on cannabis products would go to the state general fund. No further progress was made after the bill was referred to the Indiana State House of Representatives Committee on Public Health on Jan. 9. 

SB 237 was authored by Democrat Sen. Greg Taylor. The bill “establishes a medical marijuana program and permits caregivers and patients who have received a physician recommendation to possess a certain quantity of marijuana for treatment of certain medical conditions.” It also creates a regulatory agency that would oversee the program. No further action has been taken with the bill since Jan. 11 when it was referred to the Indiana State Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services.

Taylor said he began supporting the legalization of medical marijuana because it became apparent to him that cannabis can have medicinal purposes. According to Taylor, people who suffer from anxiety, pain from cancer treatment and other physical ailments can benefit from using cannabis. 

“I think to keep this kind of pain or, if you will, anxiety treatment away from people is not justified,” Taylor said. “And we need to become a state that understands that not every medicine that will work for one individual works well or the same for other individuals.”

Even if medical marijuana is legalized, problems that already exist such as black markets and substance abuse could still be around, Taylor said. According to Taylor, the good outweighs the bad.

“First of all, it’s going to help people who have ailments that can be treated with cannabis,” Taylor said. “Then you’ve got the whole thing associated with social justice reform when it comes to incarcerated communities, impoverished communities and people who have been incarcerated for mere possession of cannabis in the past. And then you have the economic benefit that the state taxpayers would see from the revenue associated with taxing the product.”

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