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Former Senator Says Indiana Is Exploring Legal Weed, But Not For Economic Benefits

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By Nina Zdinjak

Regulators in Indiana recently agreed that more research on the potential health benefits and decriminalization of cannabis is required before taking any legislative action. The General Assembly’s Legislative Council overwhelmingly supported the idea to task the interim study committee on public health, behavioral health and human services with reviewing the issue further.

Until the legislative session in 2023, the task force will consult industry experts and take public testimony on cannabis issues. Several meetings are planned for this summer or fall.

Photo by Esther Kelleter/Getty

Health Benefits First

Speaking about legalization efforts, former state Senator Jim Merritt told IN Focus that the summer committee in the Hoosier State is concentrated on the health benefits, more than economic, writes Fox 59.

“The overwhelming feeling in Indiana, as far as I know, is cannabis in a health situation,” Merritt said. “I think the idea of cannabis coming into the state… if we can just legalize and regulate it, I think we would have more of a control over it.”

He also stressed that Delta-8 THC requires increased regulation and that the state should learn from other states that already have legal marijuana programs, what are the best, but also what are the worst practices.

According to Merritt, Indiana will have to wait “a couple of years” before seeing the state reform. He is, however, more optimistic about medical marijuana legalization, and thinks it will be seriously considered in the next legislative session.

“I think you’ll see a medical cannabis in the legislature next year,” Merritt said. “Ohio has had a good experience with it, they have a good model.”

On the topic, state Rep. Terri Austin (D – Anderson) said she plans to examine all the potential benefits both economically and socially and to research the impacts in other states that have already gone through the legalization process.

RELATED: Cannabis Legalization On Hold In Indiana — Here’s Why

Indiana Senator Attempts To Decriminalize Marijuana
Photo by Steven Van Elk via Unsplash

“What we really want to know is: Is it a wise move for Indiana in the long run?” Austin said. “What can we learn from those states that have passed legalization or decriminalization efforts?”

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) added that the committee has a crucial task to guide the state further on the issue.

“We have to figure out where we are and this is going to be an important conversation to have this summer for where Indiana moves,” Bray said.

Indiana Senate Candidate Smokes Joint In Video For Cannabis Legalization Campaign

Other politicians in Indiana seem to be on the same legalization page. For example, just one day before the cannabis holiday (4/20), Indiana Senate candidate Thomas McDermott released his marijuana legalization ad online.

RELATED: Politicians Smoking Weed To Get Elected — Is This The Cool New Trend?

The video starts with McDermott lighting something that looks like a joint and smoking it. To promote the ad, the mayor of Hammond tweeted the following:

McDermott is expected to compete with incumbent Republican Sen. Todd Young in November.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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