A Republican lawmaker in Indiana is putting his weight behind a pair of bills that would bring legal marijuana to the Hoosier State.

GOP state Sen. Jon Ford “recently signed on to support two bills this legislative session related to cannabis and its possible future use in the state,” according to local news station WTWO/WAWV, with the legislator saying “he wants to begin to have these discussions … due to the area he represents being on the border with Illinois, where recreational marijuana is legal.”

Ford indicated that he was driven to support the measures after conversations with members of law enforcement, who said that the discrepancy between Indiana and other bordering states has led to confusion.

“It’s hard for law enforcement to understand where we are on the issue, so I really wanted to support the bill so we can have that discussion,” Ford told WTWO/WAWV.

Ford authored the two bills with a pair of Democratic lawmakers.

Senate Bill 336 would establish “a procedure for the lawful production and sale of cannabis in Indiana.”

Senate Bill 377, meanwhile, would establish the following: 

“Permits the use of cannabis by: (1) a person at least 21 years of age; and (2) a person with a serious medical condition as determined by the person’s physician. Establishes the adult use cannabis excise tax, and requires a retailer to transfer the tax to the department of state revenue for deposit in the state general fund. Exempts veterans from payment of the sales tax on medical or adult use cannabis. Establishes a cannabis program to permit the cultivation, processing, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis by holders of a valid permit. Establishes the Indiana Cannabis Commission (ICC) as a state agency to oversee, implement, and enforce the program, and establishes the ICC advisory committee to review the effectiveness of the program. Requires that permit holders take steps to prevent diversion of cannabis to unauthorized persons. Requires that cannabis and cannabis products be properly labeled, placed in child resistant packaging, and tested by an independent testing laboratory before being made available for purchase. Prohibits packaging cannabis in a manner that is appealing to children. Authorizes research on cannabis in accordance with rules set forth by the ICC. Establishes a procedure for the expungement of a cannabis related conviction if the act constituting the conviction becomes legal. Makes conforming amendments.”

It is probably a long-shot for either bill to become law this year, however. 

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has said previously that he isn’t keen on the state legalizing marijuana before the federal government. 

“The law that needs to change is the federal law,” Holcomb said in 2021. “It is illegal right now for recreational use, for medicinal use. There are states that have ignored that law. I will not ignore any law whether I agree with it or disagree with it or disagree with it so that’s the law that needs to change.”

But last year, after President Joe Biden announced that he would issue pardons to all individuals with federal cannabis convictions, Holcomb said that Indiana would not be following the White House’s lead.

“The president should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law,” Holcomb said at the time. “Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders.”

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