One of our members wrote to us to tell us about his conversation with one of Senator Mike Braun’s staff members during his mobile office hours in Bloomington, Indiana. He requested that we do not publish his name, but we wanted to share his discussion. If you have met with an elected official or a member of their staff to discuss cannabis reform, please write to us at [email protected] and let us know how it went! 

On Tuesday, May 21st, I attended Senator Mike Braun’s mobile office hours held at the Monroe County Public Library to talk about cannabis reform. I met with Jan Schuler-Hicks, who is Braun’s regional director for much of Southern Indiana. I arrived around 10:30 a.m. and had a really good conversation with her for about 20 minutes regarding where Senator Braun stands on cannabis reform.

Ms. Schuler-Hicks took a lot of notes as I talked and seemed to sincerely want to know my thoughts and said she’d try to provide real answers as opposed to “a form letter,” as she put it. I first asked where Braun stood on S. 420, and if he plans to support that bill and/or bills like it. We talked about how Braun has said he thinks the states are a great place to test new reforms. However, I pointed out (and she agreed), that Indiana is behind the rest of the nation regarding state cannabis reform. Therefore, federal reform is absolutely necessary. I mentioned that even if an individual could grow and possess cannabis here, they are still “a criminal” under federal law and it makes it a very gray area which continues to stigmatize cannabis use. In addition, the federal prohibition has made it so hard to actually study this plant to the extent that it needs to be studied, and she agreed that it was a major issue.

We talked about how in a country and state that claims to love freedom and personal responsibility, it is absurd that grown, responsible adults can’t grow and possess and little cannabis for personal use. I mentioned friends and family, good working class people, with fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, arthritis and other ailments that are finding great relief from using cannabis (THC & CBD). But it is scary because they are risking so much to obtain and use it in this state. I told her these are people just like you and me and they don’t want to be criminals, they just want relief with the least amount of toxins and side effects. We talked about the available research showing how states with cannabis reforms of any kind have lower opioid overdose mortality rates, a problem devastating Indiana. I asked her if Senator Braun knows this information and if not, inquired on the best way to make sure he knows.

Interestingly, Senator Braun recently co-sponsored a bill to expand the parallel track to target diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, opioid addiction, and ALS. I discussed with Ms. Schuler-Hicks how even with the limited research we have, cannabis has been scientifically and anecdotally shown to help all these ailments in one way or another. She agreed and seemed to be at least somewhat aware of a lot of this information. She even brought up the recent NY Times article about CBD, which Indiana NORML posted on Facebook as well.

We discussed how Braun is a business man and this all seems right up his alley, if he truly wants to bring more freedom and jobs to Americans and Hoosiers. I asked if Mr. Braun is aware of the industry, jobs, and tax revenue that comes with cannabis reform in states (not to mention hemp!) and implored her to please make sure he is familiar with this information. I have to say I was really impressed with how open, engaging, and thoughtful Jan Schuler-Hicks was. We will see if it was posturing or genuine, but it gave me a little hope that maybe she, Braun, and others like them are turning the corner and having a change of heart and mind regarding cannabis reforms.

If you would like to attend one of Senator Braun’s open office hours to speak to a staff member, check out the press release tab on his website to check for monthly scheduling.