Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
An opioid epidemic. High smoking rates. Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges. Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Indiana Officials Line Up Against Medical Marijuana

wikimedia commons

Despite a push from some Indiana legislators to legalize marijuana as an alternative to opioid pain medications, government officials — including the state’s governor himself — say they won’t support efforts to legalize medical pot.

Such efforts have ramped up this year, with state Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) pledging to explore a medical marijuana bill and groups such as the American Legionbacking the push.

But Gov. Eric Holcomb said during an unveiling of his 2018 legislative agenda he wouldn’t support any push for decriminalize marijuana — for any purpose.

“I’m trying to get drugs off the street, not add more into the mix,” Holcomb said. “And so I’m just not supportive of that.”

Holcomb said groups interested in decriminalization should take up their cause with the federal Food and Drug Administration.

A day after Holcomb unveiled his agenda, the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse voted to formally oppose the decriminalization of marijuana in any form.

Two members of the commission asked that it take a stand against medical marijuana in Indiana, according to the commission’s executive director Jim McClelland.

In a vote, 11 members supported the resolution, three members abstained and two voted against it.

McClelland said while there is research on the benefits of medical marijuana, there isn’t FDA approval or clinical trials.

“We were asked to take a position, the governor has stated his position on it. Our position is very much in line with the governor’s,” McClelland said.

One of those who opposed taking a position was state Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), who argued it was outside the scope of the commission’s purpose.

“If it helps them, I think that’s what we’re here as public policy makers to do, to try to find more things – put more tools in the toolbox to help people,” Taylor said.

One of the 11 who supported the resolution was newly-appointed state Health Commissioner Kristina Box. She cited a state health department study that shows 20 percent of mothers who have a history of using drugs or show symptoms of drug use at delivery tested positive for marijuana use.

In addition to the commission and Gov. Holcomb, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council – and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill – have loudly denounced such a move.

This story was originally appeared on Indiana Public Broadcasting stations.