Attorney general candidate Weinzapfel calls on Indiana to legalize marijuana
The Republican nominee, former Congressman Todd Rokita, will square off against the Democrats’ choice, former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. Wochit
Democratic Indiana attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel is calling on the state to legalize marijuana, saying it could boost funding for public education while helping to reduce the state’s prison and jail populations.
In a statement released Monday, Weinzapfel said he believes regulated marijuana sales would help Indiana recover economically from the pandemic. He also pointed out that Indiana’s neighbors Illinois and Michigan already have legalized recreational use of marijuana.
“As Attorney General, I would work with the Indiana General Assembly to create a well-regulated system and advocate that tax dollars generated from the sale of recreational cannabis to be directed towards public schools and giving teachers a raise,” Weinzapfel said. “I also would push for a portion of those new dollars to be invested in supporting and improving public safety.”
Jonathan Weinzapfel (Photo: Courier & Press)
Weinzapfel, who was mayor of Evansville from 2003 to 2011, previously told IndyStar that he supported the regulation of marijuana for medicinal use but at the time he didn’t go as far as calling for legalization of the drug for recreational use. “I think we ought to decriminalize it as a state and approve its use for medicinal purposes under a doctor’s supervision,” Weinzapfel had said.
Brent Littlefield, a campaign adviser for Republican attorney general candidate Todd Rokita, said Weinzapfel’s call to legalize marijuana was another one of the Democrat’s “radical soft-on-crime ideas.” He added that “Todd fully supports current Indiana state law which allows for a judge to issue a Conditional Discharge for first time, small marijuana possession offenses.”
In an earlier interview with IndyStar, Weinzapfel said he supported Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ decision, announced last year, to not prosecute cases in which an individual’s only arrest charge is possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.
“Having a felony on the record of a lot of young people because of possession of small amounts of marijuana makes zero sense,” Weinzapfel said.
When IndyStar earlier this year asked Rokita whether he would support the decriminalization of marijuana in Indiana, Rokita said he would stand by the state’s lawmakers in his role as attorney general.
“Whatever the General Assembly comes up with is what I will defend, on this issue or any others.”
Weinzapfel is calling on Indiana to legalize marijuana, saying it could help boost public education funding and reduce incarceration.
Indiana’s Proposed Marijuana Laws In 2020
Indiana is one of several states hoping to legalize marijuana use in 2020, and several types of legislation have thus far been introduced in order to reach this goal. In total, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use (over the age of 21).
The potential of Indiana becoming a state with legal marijuana in 2020 hangs in the passage of proposed laws. Below, an overview of the proposed marijuana laws for Indiana in 2020.
Sen. Tallian’s Three Bills
Democratic Senator Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes has proposed three bills regarding hemp and marijuana use. One is designed to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of cannabis. Another seeks to form a marijuana compliance commission in order to monitor any testing of CBD ingredients. The Indiana senator’s third measure aims to undo a mistake created by a bill from 2018 that rendered smokable hemp products illicit in the state. However, this clashed with a previous measure. A federal judge in Indiana stopped this prohibition from taking effect.
According to TheStatehouseFile.com, there were more than 22,0000 arrests for marijuana possession in Indiana in 2018, and this represents the second-most-common arrest motive in the state.
“Maybe we’re not putting people in jail in every county,” Tallian told the publication. “But 22,000 arrests is a lot of court time, and a lot of these people will still end up with a criminal record.”
According to FindLaw, possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana in Indiana is a misdemeanor. However, certain jurisdictions have drug diversion initiative options for first-time offenders.
Many advocates of marijuana legalization and decriminalization have pointed to the failure of the prohibition of alcohol during the 1920s as an argument. Others have also noted that marijuana’s effects on health are not as severe as those brought on by consumption of alcohol or other drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.
Decriminalization would involve the state no longer treating certain marijuana offenses as illegal, meaning no arrest or prosecution.
Safety Tests For CBD Products
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clearly stated that it has not approved many drugs containing cannabidiol (CBD) that people tend to use for diagnosing, treating or preventing certain diseases.
A recent article from Consumer Reports explained how Barbara Crouch — a registered pharmacist who is also a top official at Utah’s Poison Control Center — tested a product called Yolo CBD after Salt Lake City individuals who’d consumed it experienced seizures, loss of consciousness, and hospitalization. Crouch discovered that this product contained a lethal synthetic cannabinoid named 4-CCB instead of CBD.
This case highlights the importance of testing all products labeled as “hemp” or “CBD” items thoroughly in order to determine whether they are truly what they are marketed to be and whether they are safe to use.
Conflicts And Errors In Previous Bills
As it happens with other controversial issues (like gun control or reproductive rights), previous types of legislation may have presented clear mistakes that render the process of legalizing marijuana more complicated. In the case of Indiana, Senator Tallian has said she is striving to fix the conflict regarding her bill concerning smokable hemp products.
What The Judges Say
In September 2019, Southern Indiana District Court Judge Sarah Evans Baker voiced her support for a lawsuit intended to block state officials from prohibiting the distribution and sale of smokable hemp. Baker cited a direct clash with the 2018 Farm Bill, which made hemp production legal in the U.S. for the very first time since before World War I.
“Given that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of their claim that the challenged provisions of SEA 516 are preempted by federal law, the balance of harms weighs in Plaintiffs’ favor,” Baker wrote in her decision, referencing Senate Enrolled Act 516.
Consult With MFE If Your Business Needs Coverage
With many states having jumped on the legalization train, and others hoping to do so soon, many people have begun opening dispensaries or expanding existing dispensaries, and it is important for them to consider insurance coverage. Speak to the experienced professionals at MFE Insurance (in Los Angeles or Detroit) to learn whether or not your marijuana dispensary or other similar company is in need of insurance coverage.
MFE offers General Liability Insurance, which shields you and your business from bodily injury claims and property damage. This type of insurance also covers third-party lawsuits. Your policy can pay settlements, attorney fees and any other relevant costs. MFE also provides product liability insurance, commercial automobile insurance (for owned, non-owned and borrowed vehicles), workers’ compensation insurance, equipment breakdown insurance, cyber liability insurance and loss of income insurance, among other types of insurance. Call MFE today at 213-266-7990 or contact them online for more information about their products.
Indiana has proposed several new laws regarding marijuana. Learn everything you need to know about the new Indiana marijuana laws proposed for 2020.