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Republican state house member introduces medical cannabis bill in Indiana

Hopeful CBD patients in the state of Indiana are experiencing a living nightmare – it’s nearly a year since CBD was legalized for specific medical uses in the Hoosier State, but those permitted to use high-CBD cannabis oil are still waiting. Compared to the states surrounding Indiana (Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to name three), the state has a very restrictive stance on cannabis.

However, with the confusion on CBD in the state riling citizens and – some – lawmakers alike, it’s possible that change may be coming. A medical cannabis bill was recently sent to Indiana’s public health committee by the state legislator.

Democratic Indiana senate member has been a friend to cannabis for several years, proposing a medical bill annually since 2011. Unfortunately, none of those bills ever received any movement, but the new 2018 bill, could have much more success. Introduced in Indiana’s House by Republican member Jim Lucas, medical cannabis supporters are relatively optimistic.

Much of this is down to House Speaker Brian Bosma’s support of cannabis research. The IndyStar reported that Bosma was previously against marijuana in all circumstances but is now prepared to consider the medical argument. While this doesn’t suggest that the battle is won and over, it does indicate that even hardened anti-cannabis voices are now receptive to exploring the counter-argument.

Indiana’s government is not only Republican-dominated, but traditional and conservative-minded – the state’s former governor, Mike Pence, ran with Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election and is now U.S. Vice President. Pence appointed Curtis Hill as Indiana’s Attorney General – Hill, not dissimilarly to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is notorious for making sensationalized remarks about marijuana.

After CBD was legalized in April 2017, state law enforcement conducted a crackdown on grocery stores stocking CBD products, which eventually had to be halted. Around 50 letters were sent to stores by Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. The fervent drive to restrict Indiana citizens from purchasing CBD drove Jim Tomes, a Republican State Senator, to introduce a bill that would legalize possessing and vending CBD oil within the state.

House member Lucas notes that his interest in medical cannabis legalization was sparked by the CBD controversy that has gripped Indiana. The opioid crisis is also a pertinent problem in the state, particularly in small towns, and Lucas is keen to look at cannabis as a solution to the epidemic. Further research is necessary, but cannabis could help to reduce opioid dependence, according to some studies.

In an IndyStar report, Lucas says he understands that medical cannabis is a “controversial issue,” but hopes that the public can learn the facts and filter out fear-mongering. With better understanding, Indianans could enjoy a “better quality of life,” said a convinced Lucas.

The government’s fierce pushback at CBD oil legislation has nothing but fuel the medical marijuana fire in Indiana – activists in the state are now more determined than ever to pass laws. Indiana NORML communications director, David Phipps, told the Indiana Business Journal that the government crackdown has given more life to the medical marijuana movement than NORML’s work for the past two years. With more than 7 in 10 Indiana voters favoring medical legislation in the state, lawmakers must surely fall in line with public opinion sooner or later.

Final thoughts

The cannabis genie is definitely out of the bottle in Indiana, but that doesn’t mean that a medical bill will make it through the House and Senate as early as 2018 – perhaps this year there is more hope for the Tomes bill than the Lucas bill. However, marijuana advocates must keep the pressure on, and continue building on the slow but sure progress. The very fact that some of the strongest cannabis opponents in Indiana now have an open mind is welcome, and proof that attitudes towards marijuana are changing. It’s just taking longer in some states than others.

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