Two sides of Indiana’s medical cannabis debate spoke up Wednesday, a day after state lawmakers agreed the top is worth discussion by a summer study committee.
The summer study committee is expected to start meeting later this summer, maybe in June or July.
David Phipps, communications director for the Indiana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, “Indiana NORML is really excited about this! We’re stepping up our game.”
The group has lobbied in favor of medical cannabis for years. For Phipps, the summer study committee is a step in the right direction.
“The biggest thing that’ll come from this is lives will be saved, suffering will be reduced, and we will be getting tax revenue from ths medicine that we’re not getting right now,” he said.
Medical marijuana is illegal in Indiana, but legal in 29 other states including Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.
Phipps said, “We have a lot of chronic pain patients in this state. Chronic pain is being treated with opioids right now. That is what’s leading to most of the addictions we’re seeing on the streets that’s killing our people. We need a safe alternative.”
David Powell. executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, shared a differing opinion about legalizing medical marijuana. The council opposes medical marijuana.
“It doesn’t lower crime rates. It doesn’t lower opiate use. In fact, it makes opiate use three times more likely if you’re using marijuana. But, nobody wants to talk about the data really and the research. They want to talk about the anecdotes.”
Powell added, “We’re disappointed that it’s going to take up legislative time.”
Powell said he hopes the study focuses on science.
“We know that marijuana has been called medicine. It ultimately becomes legalized, recreationally, at least in those states. It’s a track down that line. So far, the data of those states is not good for jobs, children and all the things Indiana is trying to promote. I think … I’m hopeful they would focus on jobs, taxes, kids.”
Both sides know a good chance exists that medical marijuana bills will be introduce in the 2019 legislative session.