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10/24/2018 11:33:00 AM
Here's where Southern Indiana legislators, candidates stand on medical marijuana

Noah Stubbs, Evansville Courier & Press

EVANSVILLE — Nearly three-quarters of Hoosiers favor legalizing medical marijuana in Indiana, according to a 2016 poll.

A legislative interim study committee met last Thursday — for the first time in the Statehouse — to hear testimony and discuss the future of medical marijuana.

A watered-down proposal to recommend further study wasn’t approved by enough committee members.

Translation: Indiana probably won't see medical marijuana legislation reach the house or senate floor this year.

Still, with a sizable amount of Indiana's population interested in cannabis for medical purposes, we wanted to know where our local state legislators (and legislative candidates) stand on the issue.

Here's what they have to say: (Candidates are identified with an asterisk after their name and party affiliation.)

Indiana Senate 48

Mark Messmer (R)

Did not respond.

Indiana Senate 49

Jim Tomes (R)

Rep. Tomes was the first Indiana lawmaker to file a bill legalizing possession and sale of CBD oil in Indiana. 

However, he opposes marijuana legalization beyond CBD.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind the marijuana plant has some applications that would be helpful in illness and disease,” Tomes said in a previous Courier & Press story. “The problem is, you can’t control the abuse of it.” 

Edie Hardcastle (D)*

Hardcastle supports the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use and said many legal products already are abused.

“I’m a botanist, so I’m well aware that 50 percent of the pharmaceuticals we use come from plants and bacteria, living sources,” Hardcastle has told the Courier & Press. “A lot of veterans I talk to want medical marijuana legalized. There’s no excuse for not going that next step.”

Indiana Senate 50

Vaneta Becker (R)

Sen. Becker said she is awaiting testimony from the interim study committee.

"I won't be taking a position until after that and not until I have had more input from my District,” Becker said. 

Indiana House 64

Matt Hostettler (R)*

Hostettler said he will review information provided by the General Assembly regarding the use of medical marijuana.

"I will use that information to make an objective decision to give Hoosier doctors and patients the benefit of as many safe treatment options as possible," Hostettler said in an email statement.

Indiana House 75

Ron Bacon (R)

Rep. Bacon said he would be open to considering medical marijuana in Indiana, as long as it was supported as a proven treatment option by medical professionals.

"As a member of the medical community for nearly 50 years, I communicate regularly with many industry professionals in our area, and I want to hear their input and expertise on the issue before making a decision," Bacon said.

John Hurley (D)*

Hurley supports decriminalization of cannabis for medical purposes.

"Hoosiers deserve all options on the table for medical treatment, and alternatives to opioids for pain treatment must be especially pursued," Hurley said in a statement.

If elected he would also pursue industrial hemp as an agriculture option for Hoosier farmers, he said.

"According to a 2013 article from Forbes Magazine, there are over 25,000 uses for industrial hemp," Hurley said. "The addition of this crop could help diversify and stabilize Indiana's agricultural economy."

Indiana House 76

Wendy McNamara (R)

Like Tomes, Rep. McNamara was quick to support legalizing possession and sale of CBD oil.

She would consider supporting a medical marijuana bill "if certain boundaries and parameters were included."

"It would be important to take recommendations from the medical community and other experts into consideration to determine the appropriate restrictions,” McNamara said.

McNamara doesn't support legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Stephen Folz (D)*

Folz said he believes in the benefits of medical marijuana.

"I also think it could help get people off opioids," Folz said.

However, he said recreational use should be heavily regulated, like alcohol.

"There needs to be a test, something to show that drivers are impaired," Folz said.

Indiana House 77

Ryan Hatfield (D)

Rep. Hatfield would support legislation for medical marijuana use only if an on road test — comparable to a BAC (blood alcohol content) breathalyzer or blood test — becomes available.

"I believe medical marijuana can be helpful," Hatfield said in a debate. "I think the research proves that. I'll be open to (legislation) when we're able to use the technology available for on road testing."

Indiana House 78

Holli Sullivan (R)

Did not respond.

Related Stories:
• Medical marijuana bills likely to resurface in upcoming legislative session
• Will Michigan law push Indiana toward cannabis?
• Survey finds more support for marijuana in Indiana than sports betting

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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