FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A group of Indiana Democrats, including the mayor of Hammond who appears in a campaign ad smoking a joint, stopped in Fort Wayne Thursday morning to call for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Mayor Tom McDermott, who is running for U.S. Senate, was joined by Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells, State Representative Sue Errington, and Indiana NORML Chairman Jason Straw at Allen County Democratic Party Headquarters. The stop was one of seven aimed at convincing state residents why Indiana would benefit from the legalization of recreational pot.

The Democrats argue that legal cannabis will transform the state’s economy and create job opportunities for farmers. They cite a poll indicating more than 80-percent of voters support legal pot in some form. Republicans shot down pot legislation during the 2022 legislative session. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would decriminalize pot, but it faces strong opposition in the Senate.

“We have seen the impact that recreational and medicinal cannabis use has made on the states around us, and not only are Hoosiers contributing to neighboring states’ economies, Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether,” said Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “It’s unfortunate to see Indiana Republicans have no plan on cannabis, and instead, see them oppose this common sense policy due to partisanship. Democrats have taken the lead on this effort because it’s a win-win for the state’s economy and for Hoosiers altogether. Legalizing cannabis will also fulfill Democrats’ consistent promise of creating a better future for our families.” 

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has said in the past he thinks the federal government should take the lead on reform of marijuana laws, since it is still considered illegal on the federal level.