Weed would be legalized in the Hoosier State if the federal government stopped classifying it as a “schedule one” substance.
At least, that’s the intention behind one of Indiana’s ten cannabis proposals proposed for the 2023 legislative session. Calls for legalization can be heard on the extreme end, while efforts to reduce penalties for possession of tiny amounts can be heard on the other end of the spectrum.
Many bills dealing with marijuana have been introduced in the legislature over the years, but they have a slim chance of being approved. Indiana is one of only 12 states that has not legalized cannabis in some form. Last year, all 13 proposed measures failed.
Some legislators are placing their hopes in the following bills for 2023.
HB 1039: Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis
Rep. Jake Teshka (R-Ariz.) has made an unprecedented effort. However, there is a catch to this.
If the federal government removes marijuana’s “schedule one” narcotic category, which is reserved for medicines the Drug Enforcement Administration argues have “no generally accepted medicinal use and a high potential for misuse,” the bill would legalize recreational and medical marijuana in Indiana.” Medical marijuana is increasingly being recommended by doctors.
Heroin and LSD, both of which have been investigated for potential medical use, are also included under the category of “schedule one” narcotics alongside marijuana. Cocaine, on the other hand, falls under schedule 2.
The perfect scenario would see cannabis legalized for “adult use,” or recreational usage, for anyone over the age of 21. And anyone with a severe medical condition could get cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
It would create a hefty infrastructure, along with new government jobs, if marijuana were ever legalized here, including the imposition of excise taxes on marijuana sales. Included in this would be the establishment of a legislatively-appointed advisory council to manage all facets of the cannabis industry.
Money from the excise tax would be deposited into the general fund of the state, as stated in the most recent budget note.
Money made by Indiana’s legal marijuana industry is not estimated, but it stands to reason that it would be substantial. Illinois’ monthly cannabis revenue is in the tens of millions.
President Joe Biden issued a pardon for anyone with a federal simple possession conviction in October. In addition, he requested that the federal government reconsider its classification of marijuana as a “schedule one” drug.
HB 1263: Medical Marijuana
Rep. Jim Lucas (R-CA) has introduced legislation that would make medicinal marijuana available to anyone with a doctor’s recommendation that it would be beneficial to use the medication in place of conventional medicine.
The Indiana State Department of Health would issue a valid ID card to approved patients.
Moreover, it would enable certain patients to designate a “carer” who would be responsible for getting the medication on their behalf. Anyone providing care must be at least 18, and those less than 21 require further state certification.
However, with a doctor’s prescription, users of any age are permitted. The measure does not identify any conditions for which medical marijuana could be considered appropriate.
Allowing patients to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis per day (about 80 standard weed candies) is a major step forward for the legalization movement. Furthermore, the bill would make it “unlawful discrimination for any person to suspend, expel, refuse to employ, refuse to admit, refuse to grant or renew a license, permission, or certificate” for anybody who uses medical marijuana.
SB 308: Cannabis legalization; HB 1248: Cannabis
Republican Sen. Kyle Walker and Democrat. Rep. Blake Johnson has introduced companion legislation that seeks to provide the groundwork for a regulated marijuana market in Indiana without really advocating for legalization.
Both are over 90 pages long, illustrating the potential complexity of a lawful enterprise in Indiana.
Each state would set up a “cannabis commission,” whose members would be nominated by the governor. A commission under Walker’s leadership would have four members, while Johnson’s would have five. Each commissioner’s term would last four years.
No more than two commissioners could come from the same political party under the Senate plan. It’s three in the House version of the measure.
An executive director and “enforcement officers” would staff the commission. The bill would establish a state “office of the prosecutor” to enforce marijuana laws and assist local governments in keeping tabs on the industry.
An excise tax of 10% would be imposed by both legislation, with the proceeds going into a “cannabis fund” and eventually being doled out to various organizations.
The main distinction between the bills is how the funding is allocated.
The budgetary allocations proposed by Walker would look like this:
- Prosecutors in counties where stores are located can expect to receive 15%.
- 15% for municipalities that host a manufacturing, wholesale, or retail establishment. A municipality or county receives more funding for its amenities the more of them there are.
- 15% to police chiefs and sheriffs
- 15 percent to the state of Indiana’s health division so that they can “create, in cooperation with the department of education, a cannabis abuse prevention and education program for adolescents.”
- The remaining 40% would go to Indiana’s general budget, which is used for a variety of purposes including public education and employee wages.
But Johnson’s bill doesn’t put any money into the general fund at all. A look at the most up-to-date version on the legislative website shows that this would transmit:
- 15% for district attorneys in areas with legal marijuana shops
- 15% to agriculturally active municipalities. Under the Senate bill, the more facilities you have, the more money you get.
- Twenty percent to the health department for “cannabis-abuse prevention.”
- Give 25% to the Health Department “for use by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction.””
- The State Police receive 25%
Another similar provision in both proposals reads as follows: “The (cannabis) commission has the ability to restrict the sale, transportation, or movement of cannabis where, in the view of the commission, it is required during times of public emergency, civil disturbance, riot, or epidemic.” It is permissible to implement the ban without giving any advance warning or publicity, and it can remain in effect for as long as necessary.
SB 237: Medical cannabis
Conversely, Democratic Senator Greg Taylor has introduced a bill to lay the groundwork for the regulation of medical marijuana in the event that it is legalized by the legislature.
This medical marijuana bill, unlike the one listed above, specifies which illnesses and ailments are eligible for inclusion on the “treatable medical conditions” list. Those things are:
- Retrovirus Infectious Diseases and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- Cachexia is characterized by physical weakness caused by long-term sickness.
- Agonizing, ongoing suffering brought on by cancer
- Diseases like multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s can trigger muscle spasms.
- Extreme queasiness
- Distress after a traumatic event can be caused by “any persistent or chronic illness or condition”
- that makes everyday life unsafe or impossible.
HB 1356: Cannabis; HB 1297: Decriminalization of marijuana; SB 70: Marijuana
Possession of fewer than two ounces of marijuana would no longer be punishable under the House measures. Both bills have representatives from the Evansville area as co-authors: Republican Representative Cindy Ledbetter on House Bill 1356 and Democrat Representative Ryan Hatfield on House Bill 1297.
The bill in the Senate is similar, but it is less bold. Republican Sen. Mike Bohacek is behind the bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana from the current two.
HB 1065: Cannabis regulation; SB 82: Intoxication and marijuana
Democratic Representative Sue Errington has introduced a bill in the House that would create an advisory committee with four voting members and five non-voting members, all of whom would be appointed by the legislature, to regulate the distribution of already legal cannabis products in the state. These products include hemp and low-THC extract.
Bohacek’s SB 82 “establishes a defense to operating a vehicle or motorboat with a controlled substance in the person’s blood if: (1) the restricted substance is marijuana or a metabolite of marijuana, and (2) the person was not inebriated.”