Most Hoosiers support cannabis reform, but prohibition and shameful underrepresentation by our lawmakers persists.
Despite having an active hemp program since 2019 and collecting a 7-percent sales tax on products, Indiana lawmakers continue to exercise willful ignorance, and have failed to fund or conduct any clinical studies.
Cannabis has never caused disability or death, is wholly nutritious, and maintains a growing list of nutritional, medical, and industrial uses.
Before 1900, cannabis was widely used in foods and medicines across the U.S. and world.
Nutrient-rich hemp byproducts, concentrated cannabinoids, and essential amino and fatty acids nourished what we know now as the Human Endocannabinoid System. The HECS regulates all bodily functions, including the central nervous system, cannabinoids provide instant relief for those with seizures or neurological diseases.
In the early 20th Century, media, film, and politics associated cannabis with violence and crime, using racism during the Spanish American War to attack and disrupt the growing cannabis industry. The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act regulated cannabis out of legality, and federal scheduling hindered all scientific studies by the 1970s.
Most states have since created robust medical and adult-use programs for full access to cannabis, including our surrounding states. However, Indiana continues prosecuting simple cannabis possessions, wasting precious criminal justice resources.
For example, 6,600 rape kits remain in a backlog to be tested in Indiana. Rather than seeking justice for those sexual assault victims and completing the testing, from 2018 to 2022, the state instead continued to use its resources to arrest and prosecute 36,819 people for simple cannabis possession.
This is not comparing apples and oranges; this demonstrates a clear need to properly organize and reprioritize our criminal justice resources and make reforms.
Indiana law enforcement is permitted to violate Fourth Amendment rights and use cannabis scent as a probable cause for warrantless searches of your person or property, even if it doesn’t produce. And in a permitless carry state like Indiana, cannabis also makes for enhanced criminal charges alongside the possession of a firearm.
Hoosier hemp-related businesses have been putting state sales tax into the surplus coffers from legal cannabis sales for five years. This money has yielded no paid studies, recommendations, or substantial expansions to cannabis law or policy.
One single business I questioned reported nearly $1 million in sales since hemp went legal, which is about $70,000 in taxes the state collected over that time. If they allocated a portion of hemp-derived tax funds toward cannabis studies, we would have substantial data for lawmakers, executives, judges, and the public.
We hear tired lines from lawmakers like, “we need more studies,” while simultaneously refusing to fund or recommending cannabis studies; or, “what about the children,” while children with intractable seizures suffer and die without cannabinoids; or, “it’s a gateway drug,” while people use it to ween off opioids and deadly drugs.
I am working to coordinate a cannabis nutritional study and have been in direct communication with the FDA Food Labeling & Nutrition, USDA U.S. Domestic Hemp Program, USDA FoodData Central , Indiana Hemp program, Purdue Extension, and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
All involved are informed and understand there is nothing except funding preventing a state or federal study of legal hemp in any manner. There are no restrictions to studying hemp-derived THC or CBD, or a nutritional study of the raw fruited plant material.
Ignoring, or refusing to serve constituents is not acceptable, and we cannot allow Indiana lawmakers to continue to discriminate Hoosiers medically and nutritionally.
Citizens are taxed in a legal market to be represented, and avoid penalties, fines, and discrimination, and that is not happening.
Written By: William E. Henry,
Libertarian Party of Elkhart County Treasure