(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana Democrats are making marijuana legalization a centerpiece of their 2022 campaign.
Hammond Mayor and U.S. Senate nominee Tom McDermott blazes up with supporters in a new campaign ad shot across the state line in Illinois. He and secretary of state candidate Destiny Wells kicked off a seven-city, five-day tour in Indianapolis, calling on Indiana and the federal government to make marijuana legal.
McDermott argues there’s no rational basis for continuing to outlaw marijuana. He notes some state have now had legal pot for a decade, and says the main effect has been the birth of a new job-creating, revenue-producing industry. And McDermott argues bringing marijuana within a regulatory structure similar to the laws governing alcohol sales would reduce crime linked to street deals.
Wells says if elected, she’ll set up a licensing structure for marijuana growers, processors and sellers, so Indiana is ready to plug and play if marijuana is legalized. She says her system would give Indiana-based businesses priority.
Democrats are teaming with veterans’ groups which argue marijuana is a more effective and less addictive alternative to opioids to treat chronic pain. Jeff Staker with Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis says the VFW, American Legion and Amvets have all passed resolutions supporting legalization. Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, who has refused to prosecute marijuana possession cases unless other charges are involved, says veterans’ groups have been among the most vocal supporters of that policy.
While Democrats are organizing the seven-city cannabis tour, the 4/20 event was tripartisan, with former Republican Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis and Indiana Libertarian Chairman Evan McMahon making appearances to endorse legalization. Muncie beauty shop owner Kat Kritsch, who’s facing Delaware County Council president Scott Alexander in a Republican primary for a newly created state Senate seat, also spoke to argue for marijuana’s health benefits.
State Senate Democrats made legalization part of their 2022 legislative agenda. The idea has some Republican support at the statehouse, but never got a hearing. Governor Holcomb says he’s not opposed to research into whether marijuana has the medical benefits its supporters claim, but notes pot remains illegal under federal law. He says he won’t join the 19 states who have ignored that law to legalize medical marijuana, or the 18 others who have legalized recreational use as well.
McDermott says there’s no point in limiting legalization to medical use only. He says in states which have taken that approach, the law has quickly become a fig leaf, with doctors writing prescriptions with few questions asked. He says Indiana shouldn’t go halfway, but embrace what he says are the economic benefits of legalization.
Democrats will promote legalization over the next several days at stops in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Lafayette, New Albany, Terre Haute and Evansville.
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