Pot prohibitionist Governor of Indiana supports effort to enact legalization if plant is embraced federally

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

He may not be overly expressive about his views on the cannabis plant and he certainly cannot be considered a staunch supporter of reform, but the Governor of Indiana’s recent comments have given advocates a glimmer of hope into the state’s future for legal weed.

In fact, during a recently-aired interview with Indy Politics, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) was questioned on the subject of cannabis policy across the state. 

He responded by saying that he is not opposed to launching the regulatory infrastructure for a legal cannabis market to transpire. Then again, he noted that he supports the idea of enacting reform once federal prohibition hits an almighty climax.

One of the questions that reporters decided to ask Indiana’s governor was whether or not he would “object to Indiana lawmakers at least starting the process” of launching a licensing structure for licensed cannabis companies in a bid to encourage the state to “flip the switch” when federal law is amended.

“I don’t mind that at all,” was the governor’s answer.

Indiana Democratic Party approved of GOP governor’s support for cannabis proposal

Many cannabis advocates are pleased to hear that the GOP governor backs cannabis reform, including the Indiana Democratic party, which recently spearheaded a legalization initiative that state lawmakers were encouraged to pass.

After learning that the governor would be open to legalizing cannabis in Indiana if cannabis is legalized at the federal level, Rep. Sue Errington (D) announced that she would dratt a bill mirroring his requests. In fact, she reportedly held a town hall event to receive feedback from voters on the subject.

Should the GOP-steered legislature struggle to pass a legalization bill during the 2022 voting session, the Indiana Democratic party said that Democrats will gear up to campaign for cannabis reform. However, even though Holcomb endorsed the idea of legalizing cannabis in Indiana via a statewide voter initiative, he has reiterated that reform efforts are not his main priority.

“We’re talking about something that is illegal, and it’s just at the core of me – I’ve said this, I’ve taken a couple blows – it’s to uphold and defend the laws of the state and nation,” Gov. Holcomb said. “I don’t get to pick and choose. Even if I agreed with it, I couldn’t get myself to just look the other way as a lot of states have. But just because a lot of other states have doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.”

Growing number of “Hoosiers” want legal cannabis

According to a poll that was carried out in 2018, 80 percent of Indiana residents are in favor of cannabis legalization (either for medical or recreational use.) On top of this, 78 percent of state residents are in agreement on the subject of decriminalizing simple cannabis possession.

It’s not just the strong support that is encouraging lawmakers to consider legalization but also, the fact that the neighboring states of Illinois and Michigan have already legalized cannabis for adult-use purposes. 

Moreover, Ohio has developed a robust medical cannabis program that appears to be serving the state and its residents well. To-date, recreational cannabis retailers in Illinois have sold recreational cannabis worth more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Holcomb says that he is interested in assessing more cannabis-focused research initiatives.

“I would encourage research, proper research, to be conducted. We’ve got Indiana University and Purdue University that agree to participate in – an ag school, a medical school – to do the proper research as they would with any other controlled substance and get the [Food and Drug Administration] involved in and get real data,” said the governor, who’s also noted in previous interviews that he wants to further investigate the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.