Presently, 29 states have sanctioned the use of medical weed. 8 states currently allow the use of recreational marijuana, where it is available for sale in commercial outlets. This is set to be the case in California, Maine and Massachusetts, where recreational weed has been passed but is yet to come into force. Many other states have to decide whether or not they implement weed and are waiting to see how legalization goes in the current states. The legalization of marijuana comes with a number of difficulties and it could be argued that it is a much smarter option to let the risk-taking states plunge headlong into the industry and simply observe. But then again there is quite a lot of money to be made and with risk comes rewards.
Marijuana in Indiana
Medical weed could yet become a reality in Indiana, though there has been no formal bill proposal at this time. The topic is at least under debate, and there are people sitting on both sides of the divide. According to Senator Jon Ford, Indiana is still far from joining the other 32 states that have legalized medical use. He stated: “You know the talk is that we are going to hear a bill from Representative Lucas out of the Seymour area to legalize medical weed , But I would find it hard to believe that we would pass that this year”.Lucas has been very active on social media and other platforms gathering support for medical weed in Indiana and getting in touch with pro marijuana organizations. Opposition remains very strong among GOP party members and Lucas would be the first Republican to introduce marijuana legislation in 5 years. Democrats have filed a number of bills, but all have been roundly defeated, consistently failing to receive even a hearing. According to the sensible words of Representative Jim Lucas of Seymour:
“I can’t comprehend how we can deny people something that provides them with relief that’s not addictive and is not killing anyone when we know for a fact that prescription opioids are killing people”
Indiana has recently allowed the use of CBD oil to treat children with seizures. The CBD compound found in cannabis has been proven effective in the treatment of seizure related disorders and it is not psychoactive, meaning it has no real side effects. This might be symbolic of a widespread acceptance of weed in general, as it happens piece by piece. First CBD oil, then medical marijuana, then recreational marijuana. Some states are more conservative and opposed to marijuana and some are more liberal, and it is not going to be legalized everywhere overnight, which is fine. It does come with its own set of headaches and difficulties, even if in the end it is a huge boon to society from a social, economic and medical standpoint.
But Ford does make a huge mistake in his reasoning. He states that it would be a bad time for a bill to be presented, as the state is currently dealing with an opioid crisis. President Trump did declare that opioids are a natural disaster and in 2015 there were over 15,000 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses. But there is a huge amount of evidence stipulating that the introduction of medical marijuana reduces the number of prescription drugs. In every state where medical marijuana has been legalized, it has been followed with a decrease in the number of prescriptions, opiates included in this figure. In other words, the exact opposite of what Ford is saying is the truth. In lieu of an opiate crisis it is the perfect time for the introduction of something that has been proven to reduce the use of opiates: marijuana. Not only does marijuana act as a gateway drug away from opiates but also from a number of other hard-core substances. Senator Jon Ford:
“You know right now as a state we are dealing with the opioid crisis. There is a legalized drug that went through the FDA approval and it is clearly a gateway to other drugs if misused”
No Hope in Indiana
If a bill goes to Session, it could possibly be voted on in a meeting this January. It does seem that a larger number of republican politicians are behind the push for marijuana legalization across the country, which is a somewhat strange stance given their support base of conservatives. A lot of this might stem from personal incidences. Many are devoutly against marijuana until they themselves get a severe illness or watch a loved one pass on without any marijuana to ease their suffering. Then they change their tune, citing their personal story as if it is a tale to be proud of. Which is not exactly the way the system is supposed to work, as politicians are supposed to represent the views of the people, regardless of their own views.
In any case, despite the works of Lucas, opposition to medical marijuana is very strong in Indiana. If it has any hope of passing it might need to be a very rigid and structured introduction (with a limited number of medical dispensaries and cultivators requiring expensive permits so certain groups can make a profit). Alternatively republican voters need to start calling their representatives and telling them that they want to see marijuana legalized.