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GOP Lawmaker in Indiana Pushes Legalization Proposals

In Indiana, a Republican legislator is backing two bills to legalize marijuana.

GOP state Sen. Jon Ford “recently signed on to support two bills this legislative session related to cannabis and its possible future use in the state,” according to local news station WTWO/WAWV, with the legislator saying “he wants to begin to have these discussions … due to the area he represents being on the border with Illinois, where recreational marijuana is legal.”

Ford said that he had been motivated to support these measures by conversations with law enforcement officials who stated that there was confusion between Indiana’s bordering states and Indiana.

“It’s hard for law enforcement to understand where we are on the issue, so I really wanted to support the bill so we can have that discussion,” Ford told WTWO/WAWV.

Ford was accompanied by a pair Democratic lawmakers to write the bills.

Senate Bill 336 would establish “a procedure for the lawful production and sale of cannabis in Indiana.”

Senate Bill 377 in the meantime would create: 

“Permits the use of cannabis by: (1) a person at least 21 years of age; and (2) a person with a serious medical condition as determined by the person’s physician. The adult cannabis excise taxes are established. Retailers must transfer this tax to the department for deposit to the state general fund. Veterans are exempted from the payment of sales tax for medical and adult cannabis. The program allows holders of valid permits to grow, process, test, transport, and sell cannabis. In Indiana, the Cannabis Commission (ICC), is established as a state agency that oversees, implements, and enforces the program. The ICC advisory board reviews the effectiveness of this program. It requires that cannabis permit holders make sure they do everything possible to stop the illegal sale of marijuana. Before cannabis or cannabis products can be sold, they must be correctly labeled and placed in child-resistant packaging. It is prohibited to package cannabis in an attractive way for children. Research on cannabis is allowed in accordance to the ICC’s rules. If the cannabis-related conviction is legalized, the procedure will be established for expungement. Makes conforming amendments.”

However, it is unlikely that either of these bills will become law in this year’s Congress. 

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has said previously that he isn’t keen on the state legalizing marijuana before the federal government. 

“The law that needs to change is the federal law,” Holcomb said in 2021. “It is illegal right now for recreational use, for medicinal use. It is illegal in some states. I will not ignore any law whether I agree with it or disagree with it or disagree with it so that’s the law that needs to change.”

But last year, after President Joe Biden announced that he would issue pardons to all individuals with federal cannabis convictions, Holcomb said that Indiana would not be following the White House’s lead.

“The president should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law,” Holcomb said at the time. “Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders.”