Leaders in Indiana’s Republican-led Statehouse are firmly against making movements towards legalizing marijuana during the upcoming legislative session.
Indiana lawmakers have not seriously debated proposals such as allowing medical marijuana or removing the threat of jail time for possessing small amounts of the drug, even as recreational marijuana sales have won approval in Michigan and Illinois and medical use is allowed in Ohio, according to a story by the Associated Press.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’ll remain opposed as long as the federal government classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug, and the leaders of the GOP-dominated Legislature back him.
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray of Martinsville said he doesn’t see the value of allowing marijuana use at the same time lawmakers are considering raising the legal age for smoking cigarettes from 18 to 21, according to the story.
“The idea of then legalizing a different kind of cigarette doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Bray said. “I don’t think it works very well for the productivity of our citizens in the workplace, so you’re going to see me very hesitant to go there.”
Advocates of legalization steps say they sense growing support in Indiana — and signs exist for that.
A poll last year by Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs found about 80% of Indiana adults favoring medical marijuana use and 40% supportive of legal recreational use, with just 16% backing the total ban, the story states.
Since then, the county prosecutor for Indianapolis has stopped pressing criminal charges against adults for possessing about one ounce or less of marijuana and officials in Lake County, which borders Chicago and is the state’s second-most populous county, are considering whether to give sheriff’s deputies the discretion to write a $50 to $250 ticket for small levels of marijuana, instead of taking someone to jail, according to the story.
Republican state Attorney General Curtis Hill, another opponent of marijuana legalization, denounced both steps and called the Indianapolis decision “a curious strategy to put out a welcome mat for lawbreakers.”