INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers will discuss cannabis this summer, including THC products already being legally sold in the Hoosier State and potential decriminalization of marijuana.
This comes amid a ramped-up effort by state Democrats and others to legalize marijuana in Indiana.
According to the agenda approved by legislative leaders from both parties, a summer study committee will focus on “delta-8, delta-9, and other THC products regarding potential health benefits, potential decriminalization, and other potential consequences.”
Delta-8 is a chemical compound derived from hemp, which was legalized federally in the 2018 farm bill and gives users a weaker high than delta-9, the chemical found in marijuana.
“We need to have a wholehearted discussion about cannabis, all forms of cannabis,” said Jason Straw, who has advocated for marijuana legalization for years as the chairman of Indiana NORML.
“There’s just a whole lot that we need to think about,” said State Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson), chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
Austin is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who signed a letter asking legislative leaders to study the issue this summer.
In addition to marijuana decriminalization, she said, she believes it’s important for lawmakers to explore potential regulations of delta-8. Currently, there are very few restrictions around the sale of delta-8 products, she explained.
“Do we need to have some behind the counter frameworks in place for sale?” Austin said. “Do we need to have some age requirements?”
Republican legislative leaders have declined to advance marijuana bills previously, arguing it’s better to wait for federal legalization first.
Lawmakers introduced a bill to ban delta-8 earlier this year, but it died in the final days of session.
“It’s important to inform ourselves on delta-8 and delta-9; I think lot of members of the General Assembly aren’t overly familiar with what those products are,” State Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) told reporters last week.
Bray said he’s not sure if any legislation will come from the committee’s work but believes it’s important to study issues connected to cannabis.
“We in Indiana have been slower to go that direction than states that are surrounding us, as you all know, but we don’t live in a vacuum,” Bray said.
Legislative leaders still have to select lawmakers for the summer study committee. The committee will meet at the Statehouse later this summer.