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Report: Indiana legislator convicted of drunk driving had THC in system

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Ind. (WISH Photo)

SEYMOUR, Ind. (WISH) — A toxicology report shows Indiana state Rep. Jim Lucas had one of the active chemical compounds found in cannabis in his system when he crashed on I-65 on May 31, a local news provider reported Friday.

Around midnight May 31, Lucas was arrested by Indiana State Police on a preliminary charge of drunk driving. Lucas crashed his truck into a guardrail while driving the wrong way on the ramp to I-65 from State Road 11.

Seymour police later found Lucas at a Seymour carpet store with the damaged truck. Lucas failed a sobriety test and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.097, which is over the state’s threshold. Lucas was then arrested and taken to the Jackson County jail.

On June 12, Lucas signed an agreement with Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.

On June 13, he was sentenced to complete the conditions of the agreement without any jail time.

A blood draw was taken after the crash at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, and the analysis done June 22 showed tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The Indiana State Police toxicology report filed June 27 listed “Delta-9 Carboxy THC (THC-COOH) 14 ± 2 ng/mL.,” The Reporter of Seymour reported Friday.

Chalfant told The Reporter that he would have filed a charge in regard to the controlled substance if the analysis had been done before the plea deal was made. However, the prosecutor said, Indiana only allows conviction of a drunk driving charge or a controlled substance charge, but not both, so the outcome of Lucas’ case would not have changed.

A Republican, Lucas represents a district containing part of southern Bartholomew County and parts of Jackson, Scott and Washington counties. He has authored unsuccessful legislative measures to allow medical and recreational marijuana in Indiana, saying the state should stop criminalizing the use of cannabis and encourage its use.

Thirty-two states have decriminalized recreational marijuana, including Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, according to DISA Global Solutions, which provides screenings for safety-sensitive industries.

In 2018, Indiana legislators agreed to allow the buying, selling and possession of low-THC cannabidiol (CBD) derived from industrial hemp. Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming are the only states not allowing any types of medical marijuana, and Indiana is among seven states that allow only low-THC CBD oil.

Lucas has not faced any legislative discipline for his conviction.

The state lawmaker earlier this week issued an apology for his drunk driving.

Lucas on social media acknowledged his “recent mistakes,” saying that he takes full responsibility. Lucas also said he was getting professional help, and that he has humiliated many people. “I’ve learned and will continue to learn every day for the rest of my life from these mistakes and errors in judgment. I am and will be a much better person because of this,” Lucas said.

He concludes his post by thanking his wife, friends that have supported him, and “the haters.”

“We’re all different and we can disagree, and I will strive to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. Thank you all for reminding me of the importance of constantly striving to be a better, stronger person today than I was yesterday,” Lucas said in the post.

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