Medical marijuana support may be growing

(NETWORK IN)  Medical marijuana is not legal in Indiana. But, in about a month members of the state general assembly will be looking at the possibility that that will change. Their agreement to a summer study is a change from just a couple of years ago when the idea of medical cannabis in Indiana seemed an absurd notion.

“Things are evolving very quickly. The legislators, even the ones who are against it, know that they’re going to have to come around in the near future if they want to stay in office,” said David Phipps, a self-described “Hoosier advocate”, and member of Indiana NORML, a group pushing for medical marijuana legalization.

“The thing that we did to make this change happen is, instead of meeting with the legislators like we were doing, and focusing our energy on them, we went to the people and we started motivating the people to meet with them and reach out and make their support clear,” said Phipps.

Phipps said he believes many more legislators are ready to submit medical cannabis bills for the 2019 legislative session and more candidates are making it part of platforms.

He said NORML plans a town hall meeting at the State Library at noon on Aug. 11, which he believes will surpass last year’s meeting in attendance and coverage.

“The day I announced this town hall meeting, I had multiple legislators reaching out wanting to be involved, and this is the first year that’s ever happened. Usually it’s me reaching out to them,” said Phipps.

He said the meeting and much of the work the lobbying group will be doing this year will focus on veterans and how they can benefit from medical marijuana, and the opioid crisis.

“Those two things are just tied together. We’re losing so many veterans every day to this opioid epidemic.”

Phipps is optimistic that medical cannabis will get a committee hearing in the general assembly, which starts in January. If it makes it out of committee, Phipps said he is hopeful Indiana will join 29 other states in 2019, that have medical marijuana laws.