INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly 60 percent of Ohio voters approved a ballot initiative this week legalizing marijuana use for adults, but the way Ohio legalized it isn’t even possible in Indiana.
Indiana’s Constitution does not allow for voter-led ballot initiatives (only the General Assembly can do that if it so chooses). Lawmakers say the only way to change that rule is to change the state’s constitution, which is not only extremely difficult but also highly unlikely.
”The Indiana voters could apply pressure, but they themselves cannot collect signatures to get something on the ballot in Indiana,” IU Maurer School of Law Professor Jody Madeira said.
According to Madeira, attempts to change Indiana’s Constitution can take years, and recent years, have been unsuccessful.
”The Senate and the House of Representatives actually would have to approve a joint resolution containing the same language, the language of the proposed change in two different separately elected legislatures,” Madeira said.
”I mean, the honest-to-God truth is this ballot initiative thing is crazy,” State Rep. Blake Johnson referencing the influx of red states that have protected reproductive rights and marijuana legalization by approving ballot measures.
According to Rep. Johnson, there will be a resolution filed next session to allow for ballot initiatives in the state.
”We have, on the floor, tried to make this a possibility for Hoosier voters and it is voted down or ignored entirely by Republican voters, so we’re going to continue pushing for that,” Rep. Johnson said.
However, some marijuana advocates say they doubt the state’s constitution will change any time soon.
”Maybe the fact they’re seeing hard-earned Indiana dollars go into the tax coffers of neighboring states may be a motivating factor for the legislature to move forward on this,” Kevin Caldwell, the southeast legislative manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, said.