If you live in Indiana, ask your lawmakers to support a comprehensive medical marijuana program today!
Today marks the first day of Indiana’s legislative session. With the 2018 elections behind us, it’s time to push for medical marijuana in the Hoosier State. Lawmakers will feel increased pressure to reform Indiana’s outdated marijuana laws, especially since neighboring Ohio and Michigan have legalized medical and adult use marijuana, respectively.
Senate Democrats have made medical marijuana legalization part of their 2019 legislative agenda. Across the aisle, Republican Rep. Jim Lucas has filed legislation to allow medical marijuana.
If lawmakers hear from enough constituents, they will be more likely to support Rep. Lucas’ compassionate bill. Please contact your lawmakers today and ask that they support medical marijuana in 2019. Then, please share the link with your friends and family. Together, we can bring relief to thousands of patients in Indiana.
In August, Republican Representative Jim Lucas announced that he is planning to introduce medical marijuana legislation in the upcoming legislative session in Indiana. This is great news for the Hoosier State! Last fall, a poll commissioned by WTHR/Howey Politics found that 73% of voters in Indiana support medical marijuana legislation.
Will you ask your lawmakers to stand with voters and protect Indiana patients? If you are an Indiana resident, please urge your lawmakers to support Rep. Lucas’ medical marijuana bill.
We are so excited that a Republican has stepped up to help champion medical marijuana legislation. It’s not always easy to stand up for what you believe in, so please take a second and send a “thank you” to Rep. Jim Lucas.
Just days after the bill was sent to his desk, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law HB 1148, a bill establishing a low-THC program for patients suffering from severe seizure disorders. The program will be run through the Department of Health and will allow patients access to cannabis oils containing less than 0.3% THC with their neurologists’ certification. The law takes effect on July 1, 2017, and you can check out our full summary of the program here.
While this program will only benefit a tiny fraction of patients in the state who could benefit from medical cannabis, MPP applauds this important policy step forward. Next session, we hope lawmakers will be persuaded to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program, something that 73% of Hoosiers support.
A pair of bills that would allow certain patients to use low-THC cannabis are winding their way through the Indiana Legislature. One of the bills is markedly stronger than the other.
SB 15 would allow patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to administer low-THC, CBD-rich medical cannabis with their doctor’s authorization. The bill would create a registry program and permit pharmacists to dispense the oil. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House Committee on Courts and the Criminal Code.
The other bill, HB 1148, provides an affirmative defense for patients, and their caregivers, who suffer from Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes for low-THC cannabis oil. This means a patient would still be subject to arrest for use of the oil, and would simply have a defense once in court. The House passed that bill unanimously last week and it is now pending in the Senate. While MPP is not opposed to HB 1148, SB 15 is clearly the better proposal since it protects more patients, provides stronger legal protections, and includes more patients with seizures.
While neither bill is the comprehensive reform Hoosiers deserve — and overwhelmingly support — it is clear that lawmakers are listening on this important issue. Please ask your representative to stand up for compassion.
State Senator Karen Tallian has long been a champion for improving marijuana-related laws in Indiana, and she has already introduced a new, compassionate bill that would establish a medical marijuana program in Indiana. If passed, SB 284 would allow patients to use and safely access medical cannabis, as is the case in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Medical marijuana can effectively alleviate a wide range of debilitating symptoms and medical conditions, and seriously ill Hoosiers should not be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using medical marijuana. Nearly half the U.S. population lives in a state that has a medical marijuana program, including Illinois and Michigan. Seriously ill patients in Indiana should not be left behind.
If you are an Indiana resident, please contact your state representative and senator today and ask them to stand up for patients. Then, please ask your friends and family members in your community to raise their voices to protect patients, too.
Indiana state Senator Karen Tallian has taken an important step towards improving marijuana laws in Indiana by introducing SB 314. This bill would reduce the penalty for possessing a small amount of marijuana to a civil fine.
Currently, a person who possesses up to 30 grams of marijuana in Indiana faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Indiana’s penalties are some of the harshest in the country. SB 314 aims to fix that by establishing a more reasonable approach. Under the bill, a person who possesses up to 2 ounces of marijuana could not be arrested or jailed and would only be subject to a fine of up to only $500. Importantly, a civil infraction is similar to a speeding ticket and is not considered a criminal offense — which could affect employment, housing, or student loans.
This legislation is a major step in the right direction for Indiana’s marijuana laws. If you are an Indiana resident, please take a moment and tell your legislators to support SB 314.
Marijuana reform is a hot topic of conversation in state legislatures around the country and not just in traditionally liberal states like California and Rhode Island. In fact, bills to make marijuana possession punishable by a fine only, rather than jail time, were introduced this year in conservative bastions like Arizona and Tennessee, and it’s a too-well-kept secret that such laws have been on the books since the '70s in Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, and several other less-than-liberal states.
You can now add Indiana to the list of states where the conversation has gone mainstream. Last week, influential Republican state Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) announced he’d be introducing legislation to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana an “infraction,” punishable by fine, rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
"We have to ask ourselves as a society, do we really want to be locking people up for having a couple of joints in their pocket," Steele told local media. "Is that how we want to be spending our criminal justice resources?" Steele also pointed out that several other states have already embraced similar policies, noting that “society didn’t melt down, and we didn’t turn into a drug-crazed culture as a result of it.”
Similar legislation has been introduced before by state Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage), but without the support of Republicans, who hold a majority in both chambers, it never got off the ground. Speculation is that Steele’s support could change that. Steele, who is closely allied with Indiana prosecutors and is described by Indiana political veterans as a “rock-ribbed law-and-order guy,” chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters where the bill would likely be assigned.
Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana), perhaps the most fanatic opponent of sensible marijuana laws in the U.S. Congress, announced that he is resigning this morning amid revelations that he had an affair with a 45-year-old staffer.
Souder, who was preparing to run for his ninth term in office, has spent the last 16 years fighting for cruel and unscientific drug policies, many of which have caused irreparable harm to his country and his constituents. Among the lowlights:
- In defiance of mountains of evidence saying otherwise, Souder has repeatedly declared that marijuana cannot be a medicine and has vocally supported efforts to stop the advance of medical marijuana laws that protect and provide care for patients.
- Souder was a primary author and defender of the “Aid Elimination Penalty” provision of the Higher Education Act, which for more than a decade prevented thousands of students with even minor drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid for college. (Luckily, that provision might soon be overturned, despite Souder’s best efforts.)
- Over the years, Souder’s office has issued numerous press releases spewing long-debunked nonsense about marijuana, such as this one, which claims “smoked marijuana, along with tobacco and alcohol, is the gateway drug for all other drug abuse” and that the Obama administration’s position on state medical marijuana laws will “over the next few years, result in higher crime rates, more highway deaths, and destroyed lives.”
During his reign of ignorance, Souder also had several notable run-ins with MPP staffers.
- At a 2001 hearing of a U.S. House subcommittee, Souder got into heated debate with MPP executive director Rob Kampia, who was testifying in favor of removing criminal penalties for medical marijuana patients. Souder told Kampia: “You’re an articulate advocate for an evil position.”
- In a scene from the 2007 Showtime documentary “In Pot We Trust,” MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston asked the congressman if there were any chance he’d ever change his position on medical marijuana. “There isn’t such a thing as medical marijuana, so I would never change my mind,” Souder replied. When Houston pointed out the government’s own Institute of Medicine found otherwise, Souder slammed a door in his face after twice declaring, “There is no such thing as medical marijuana.”
But now, it seems, Souder’s days of opposing compassionate and science-based drug policies are finally at an end. It’s about time, Congressman. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.