Author: Nathan Boling
Will medical cannabis be the deciding issue in District 47? Do you or someone you know use or benefit from CBD oil? This cannabis based product was a hot topic at the State House last year. Incumbent state senator Erin Houchin voted against legislation and strongly opposed this cannabis product that is bringing relief to thousands of Hoosiers. Her opponent Nick Siler recently answered Indiana NORML’s candidate survey (at the time of writing, Senator Houchin has yet to respond to the survey). When asked, “Do you support the implementation of a medical cannabis program in Indiana to make cannabis legally available to patients for medical purposes?” Mr. Siler responded, “Yes. If it offers relief to the chronically ill and those in pain, to cancer patients, to people suffering from other chronic conditions including veterans with PTSD, we should make it available as 32 other states and territories have done.”
Indiana is notorious for being a little behind times. Indiana just passed the Sunday sale of alcohol, a recreational drug that is known for killing thousands of Americans every year (cannabis has no recorded deaths in history) and has little to no medical value to its users, making it one of the last states to address the issue. Unfortunately for our veterans suffering from a range of illnesses such as PTSD, chronic pain from service-related injuries, cancer, or for our terminally ill citizens who have been handed a medical death sentence, they do not have time for our lawmakers to make us one of the last states to move forward with life-saving treatments for them.
Every day that our opioid epidemic continues without doing everything we can to stop it, it claims more lives. Indiana spent over four billion dollars last year on expenses directly related to the opioid epidemic, according to a recent report published by Indiana University. States that have passed medical cannabis laws are associated with a reduction in opioid related deaths, with an average above twenty percent. The negative stigma surrounding cannabis is rapidly changing as more and more positive data pours out of the 31 states that have already given patients access to a plant that is bringing them much needed relief.
Republican State Representative Jim Lucas of District 69 has been learning about cannabis since 2017 and has traveled to neighboring state Illinois as well as Colorado to personally see what Indiana was missing out on. He toured every aspect of the industry on his trips from the plant growing operations, to the retail sale locations. While on his trips, he noticed: the sky was not falling. The unfounded fears that the Indiana Prosecutors Association claim, such as increased teen usage, just isn’t happening and actually is the opposite, with surveyed high school students falling below national averages in Colorado. He even tried many cannabis products while in Colorado where recreational use is legal. His response, “I had the best nights sleep in my life.” The other thing he noticed: the jobs! The legal industry has created numerous jobs, from the farmers and those needed to process the raw plant, to the sales associates, and those working behind the scenes like botanists and chemists. These are good paying jobs, in a regulated marketplace that rivals some of the most advanced processes at Eli Lilly.
Lucas now believes that to continue to deny patients access to this plant is both wrong and immoral, a belief that is also held by many in our community. What could be a very tight race for state senate between Senator Houchin and challenger Nick Siler may come down to the issue of cannabis, which is polling nationally at a super majority of 62 percent as reported by a recent Pew research poll. As people begin to research their own medical issues, as decades old negative stigma fades, and as groups like Indiana NORML continue to educate the public, their opinion on cannabis is rapidly changing. The question is, and which will be determined after our polls close on the 6th of November, will it be a deciding factor in our local politics? I encourage you to educate yourself on this topic and take your opinion with you to the polls. Medical cannabis could change the life of someone you love.
About the author:
Nathan Boling is a veteran and resident of Campbellsburg, Indiana, where he is raising his family. He is passionate about the issue of cannabis and seeks to inspire the same passion with his friends, family, and fellow Hoosiers.