Cannabis Reform in Indiana is around the Corner

A Republican Indiana lawmaker who operates in House leadership has revealed she’ll roll out a measure to legalize cannabis for recreational and medicinal use in the 2022 legislation session.

Representative Cindy Ziemke (R), who has promoted awareness about substance misuse since her offspring battled with addiction, expressed she witnesses the challenges of enacting cannabis reform in the red legislature. However, she’s expecting that leadership will at least permit a committee panel on her upcoming cannabis proposal.

The measure would legalize cannabis for adults ages 21 and above and establish a regulated retail cannabis sales system, echoing bordering Michigan’s cannabis statute. It would also set up a medicinal cannabis program in Indiana.

While the verbiage is not publicly known at this time, the lawmaker informed the Indianapolis Business Journal that the measure would form a state commission to handle the cannabis market, issue cannabis retail licenses, and impose a tax on retail cannabis sales with revenue backing public health endeavors.

Ziemke believes that part of the motivation she chose to back the cannabis reform legislation is that Ziemke believes it will assist in diverting Hoosiers from the black market of cannabis, where they encounter other ‘harder’ drugs.

One of Ziemke’s children, who is eight years sober from heroin dependence, inspired her to pursue the cannabis reform for that cause.

“So much of [the motivation for cannabis reform] also comes from when I dialed my son, and I told him, ‘what do you think about me backing this cannabis measure?’ And he expressed, ‘You ought to do it.’ He believes, ‘because you know those people will go to a drug dealer to get the weed and could end up departing one day with the hard stuff,’” Ziemke stated. “I want a safe product that’s regulated.”

The legislator also stressed the importance of allocating cannabis tax for public health causes.

“We are so exemplary at many things. However, when it comes to the matter of public health, we are horrible,” she stated with disgust. “So if [cannabis reform tax] would generate revenue that could go into [horribly-funded programs i.e. public health] for our Hoosiers, that’s how I see it for public health and mental health and dependence.”

The lawmaker, who operates as assistant majority caucus chair, is also worried that if Indiana doesn’t make haste with fixing the issue, it will continue to miss out, unlike surrounding states

The initial test for the measure will be getting a review in the Indiana House Public Policy Committee, where cannabis lawmaking has historically been halted. While Ziemke hasn’t received any commitments at this time, she believes she’d had exchanges about the draft with Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (R), Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R), and Governor Holcomb, asking the gentlemen to remain open-minded about cannabis reform in Indiana.

Sixty percent of Hoosiers in her area expressed they support medicinal cannabis legalization, per a 2021 survey that her office drove.

A statewide 2018 survey discovered that nearly 80 percent of Hoosiers would like to see cannabis legalized for medicinal or recreational use, and roughly 81 percent backed that simple possession should not be a crime whatsoever.

Governor Eric Holcomb (R) isn’t very fond of cannabis legalization. Despite this, he did recently express that he would be all-in on having Indiana lawmakers enact legislation to set up the regulatory framework for a lawful cannabis market in the possibility that federal ban is ended.

Representative Sue Errington (D) expressed she is working on a distinct measure along the lines of what the governor stated he’s all-in for.

If the Red-ruled Indiana legislature declines to pass a legalization measure amidst the 2022 session, the party organization expressed Democrats are equipped to campaign on the matter of cannabis reform in Indiana.

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