I am strongly in favor of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. This will give us all access to an effective medication, save taxpayer dollars, keep people out of prison, and contribute to our economy.
As a nurse, I have examined the extensive research that proves how beneficial marijuana can be in medical settings. In many cases, it’s better for your overall health than many pharmaceuticals, and has fewer side effects.
I’m also encouraged by studies showing how marijuana can help control our opioid epidemic. In Indiana, many communities have been devastated by addiction to painkillers often prescribed by doctors and dispensed by our pharmacies. The highly addictive qualities of these legal drugs have ruined and taken lives. But in many cases, marijuana is an effective alternative--and doesn’t result in dependence or addiction like opioid painkillers can. In the 29 states where medical marijuana is legal, opioid deaths have declined an average of 25%. This is a common-sense solution to a major problem in our community.
Our veterans are asking for this too. The American Legion Department of Indiana, Amvets Department of Indiana and Veterans of Foreign Wars are all calling on our state legislature to legalize medical marijuana, so Indiana veterans can access this medical treatment for everything from chronic pain to PTSD.
Legalizing medical and recreational marijuana will also lessen the strain on our prisons and justice system. We’re one of only 17 states that haven’t legalized the drug in some form. Our courts are bogged down with simple possession charges, sometimes for a tiny amount--and these infractions can draw up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine. For those sentenced to incarceration, they contribute to the unconscionable overcrowding of our prisons. This is not only a strain on court and prison staff (and their budgets), it’s also a strain on the families losing loved ones to jail time. I want to ease the burden on all of these people--while freeing up resources to focus on those who are truly dangerous to our community.
Finally, legalizing all forms of marijuana will boost our local economy. In Colorado, legal marijuana sales contributed millions to the local economy-- and more than paid for increases in regulation and enforcement. There, communities are using these new funds to improve their schools, and residents are even seeing increased property values. Right now, Indiana is missing out on this golden economic opportunity.
Indiana has historically shied away from even considering legalization in any form. But the tide is turning in our state legislature. In March, we passed SB52 and legalized CBD oil. The House has also approved a study committee to explore legalizing medical marijuana. Public opinion widely supports some form of legalized use as well.
Now is the time to move forward with legal marijuana, and as your Representative, I will push for it.