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Indiana lawmakers appear no closer to cannabis legalization after hours of testimony

A closeup of a person smoking marijuana. The joint is in their mouth, with their hand raised towards it. The person, whose face is in profile and only partially visible in the image, is wearing sunglasses.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
The Indiana legislature has been more seriously considering marijuana legalization for about four years. The debate over that period hasn't fundamentally changed.

After four hours of public testimony, much of it conflicting, Indiana lawmakers appear no closer to deciding whether to legalize cannabis.

The legislature has been examining the subject for about four years. And the testimony in a legislative study committee this week didn't differ much from what lawmakers have heard before.

Katie Wiley is the chief legal officer for Stash Ventures, the parent company for cannabis growers and sellers in Michigan. She said, as a mother, she wants legal and regulated cannabis to help prevent a black market.

“If my child got their hands on something, I would want to know what was in it," Wiley said. "I would want to know it’s safe, it’s effective and that there is a control around it.”

But Indiana prosecutors and business community leaders, chiefly the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, continue to urge legislators to pump the brakes.

Chamber Vice President Mike Ripley said there’s still no good way to determine whether someone is impaired because of cannabis. And he said that has impacts on the criminal justice system and the workplace.

“The longer we wait to implement things, the more data comes out," Ripley said. "We think time is on our side.”

Both sides of the debate offered conflicting studies and data on whether cannabis legalization is better or worse for health and better or worse for public safety.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri.