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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Democratic Party are calling on the state of Indiana to legalize marijuana and capitalize on the economic boom legalization has brought to neighboring states.

In an announcement made Monday, the Indiana Democrats said they plan to introduce various forms of legalization or decriminalization legislation for the Indiana General Assembly’s 2022 session.

“Marijuana is a really popular issue, and a large majority of Hoosiers want to see this get done. Democrats are ready to take the lead on this effort because it’s a win-win for Indiana, and it’ll fulfill the Party’s consistent promise of creating a better future for Hoosier families. It’s time to legalize recreational cannabis across Indiana,” said Mike Schmuhl, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.

According to a 2018 poll by Old National Bank and Ball State University, an overwhelming percentage of Hoosiers believe marijuana should be legalized for either recreational or medicinal use as 8 in 10 Hoosiers voted in support of cannabis legalization.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears lent his office’s support to the push for statewide legalization stating his decision to no longer prosecute simple possession of marijuana cases has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and has kept low-level and non-violent offenders out of the legal system.

“Hoosiers across the state deserve a more fair and equitable justice system, and the legalization of marijuana is a significant step towards that reform,” Mears said.

Mears isn’t the only one against Indiana’s continued prosecution of the possession of marijuana as the 2018 poll stated 78 percent of Hoosiers do not even want simple possession of marijuana to be a crime.

Despite this support from voters, Governor Holcomb and the Indiana Republicans have opposed legalizing marijuana.

Recently, however, the democrats point to legalization gaining bipartisan support not just in the voters but in members of the Indiana Republican Party as former State Senator Jim Merritt and State Representative Jim Lucas calling for various forms of legalization.

The Indiana Democrats stated that legalizing marijuana would not only create an additional revenue stream for the state and new, well-paying jobs, but it would keep dollars in the state instead of crossing the border where millions of Hoosier dollars are being spent in Michigan and Illinois on legalized marijuana.

“Hoosiers have seen the impact that recreational and medicinal cannabis use has made on the states around us, and not only are they contributing to neighboring states’ economies, Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether. The Republican supermajority at the statehouse is losing its economic common sense if they do not join Democrats this session in making this opportunity a winner for the Hoosier State,” Schmuhl said.

The Indiana Democrats stated other benefits to legalization include marijuana being found to reduce opioid, alcohol and prescription drug use and its effectiveness as a therapeutic for veterans with PTSD and seniors who battle chronic pain.

“Rarely has public support from every corner of the political spectrum been so aligned on a single issue. Legalizing marijuana is not only the popular thing to do – it is the right thing to do. Continued criminalization hurts us all and goes against our professed ideals of freedom, liberty and justice. Black and brown communities have suffered disproportionately from the War on Drugs causing generations of hurt and harm. If the Indiana General Assembly continues to say ‘no’ to common-sense, popular policies Indiana will continue to lose. Hoosier families deserve the economic and medical opportunities and restorative justice that marijuana provides.”    

State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis)