Jonathan Weinzapfel, the Democratic Party’s nominee for Indiana attorney general, called for the legalization of cannabis for adults in the Hoosier State on Monday, saying the move would provide a needed economic boost while increasing funding for public education and helping reduce law enforcement costs.
“As Indiana works to come out of this pandemic stronger than before, legalizing cannabis for adults just makes sense,” said Weinzapfel in a statement posted to Twitter. “Not only will it help bring in much-needed tax dollars, it will also relieve unnecessary burdens on police and the court system while reducing jail overcrowding across the state. This will allow law enforcement agencies to focus on serious crimes and keeping our communities safe.”
Indiana currently has some of the harshest cannabis prohibition laws in the nation, with jail time possible for possession of even small amounts of pot. The state is also one of only 17 that have no provisions for the legal use of medicinal cannabis.
Noting that neighboring Illinois and Michigan have already legalized recreational marijuana, Weinzapfel called for similar reform in Indiana, saying lawmakers should legalize cannabis for use by adults and create a regulatory system for commercial cannabis production and sales.
“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 be directed towards public schools and giving teachers a raise,” said Weinzapfel. “I also would push for a portion of those new dollars to be invested in supporting and improving public safety.”
AG Candidate Also Seeks Criminal Justice Reforms
Weinzapfel’s statement also called for several criminal justice reforms, including the establishment of statewide use of force guidelines for police and providing body cameras to every officer. The proposals also include increased training for police and the establishment of new protocols to identify problem officers.
“I look forward to working with leaders of both parties to advance this plan and better fund education and public safety,” said Weinzapfel. “We cannot remain stuck in the past, while the states around us are moving ahead. We can create a safe, well-regulated system here that will benefit our children, families, and communities for years to come.”
However, legalizing recreational cannabis is likely to be a hard sell in the Hoosier state. Cannabis writer and Indiana resident Mike Adams said that as a farming state, it would make sense to include a legal cannabis industry in Indiana’s “plow and pick repertoire” as a way to stimulate an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. But he isn’t convinced that will happen any time soon.
“Unfortunately, the chances of it being taken seriously in the Indiana General Assembly aren’t very good. Not as long as the Republicans continue their reign of terror,” Adams wrote in an email to High Times. “And Governor Holcomb is still dead set against it — although he admits to using pot back in college. Even if the voters give Holcomb the boot in November, it still doesn’t seem likely that Weinzaphel will be a strong enough force to convince some of the legislature’s naysayers to take a different stance.”
Adams does, however, see a path toward limited cannabis reform in Indiana if the Democrats in the state make a strong showing in next week’s election.
“The best-case scenario is if Democrat Woody Meyers beats Holcomb,” he said. “At least the state will stand a fighting chance at legalizing for medicinal use and perhaps even statewide decriminalization. Sadly, Meyers does not favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. So it could be a long time before we join the ranks of Illinois and Michigan.”