Indiana governor candidates offer differing views on legalizing marijuana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With one week to go before Election Day, the three men running for governor in Indiana made a final pitch to voters Tuesday night.

Among the issues, they talked about broadband internet, daylight saving time and vaccines.

But one of the most distinct differences was the topic of medical marijuana and minor marijuana possession charges.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said changes should not be made for revenue reasons and that more study is needed. But both Dr. Woody Myers, the Democratic challenger, and Donald Rainwater, the Libertarian challenger, said it’s time for a change and with more than 30 other states allowing medical marijuana, there’s enough research out there.

“I know for a fact there are conditions that respond to the cannabinoids which include CBD and THC. It’s time to allow Indiana physicians to prescribe those,” said Myers, who previously served as Indiana’s health commissioner.

“I’m not against researching this medically, but it needs to be done before we can respond in an intelligent way,” Holcomb said.

“What you’ve heard from the other two candidates in a nutshell is that we want to reward big pharma with medical marijuana and keep it from the citizens of Indiana,” said Rainwater.

The candidates were also asked about how they would fix racial disparities in Indiana.

Rainwater brought up medical marijuana and possession charges again, as well as changing laws that disproportionately affect minorities and their opportunities.

“We can start with by decriminalizing cannabis and getting people out of jail and out of prison who are there because they simply possessed a plant,” Rainwater said.

Holcomb said he’s bringing in a third party to review every agency and if reelected, he would create a cabinet-level position called the chief officer of inclusion, opportunity and equity to remove roadblocks statewide.

“They will be in charge of making sure we remove any barriers, that we remove any hurdles and address those gaps. Economic empowerment will go a long way but we need to be looking at housing, transportation, health outcomes, all of the above,” Holcomb said.

Myers touched on Rainwater’s themes but also mentioned dashboard and body cameras on every officer, bias training for law enforcement and oversight of those not following proper policy.

“Perhaps my opponent needs someone to help him understand the issues of fairness and equity,” Myers said. “I understand what fairness and equity is all about. It will be a priority for my administration to make sure that we have all the fairness and equity that the state can get.”

The final question from voters was what each candidate thought the biggest issue for Hoosiers and how they plan to address the issue.

None mentioned the coronavirus or pandemic.

“My number one issue will always be public safety, period,” Myers said. “Under that umbrella, we’ll have public health, criminal justice reform and those things that keep Hoosiers safe.”

“I believe the biggest issue today is, are you experiencing government by your consent and are you better off today than you were four years ago?” asked Rainwater.

“The biggest issue I think facing the state of Indiana and every other state in the nation is how we are able to skill up our workforce,” Holcomb said. “The scale and pace of change due to technology is faster than it’s ever been.”

The moderator of this debate was Nadia Brown, a professor of political science and African American Studies at Purdue University,

She also chose a question on daylight saving time, a topic that several Hoosiers around the state wanted to ask.

Holcomb said the issue is settled and he believes the state needs consistency.

Myers said he’s open to reexamining the issue, but it won’t be done immediately. He also said it’s not possible to make everyone happy.

Rainwater said he will look closely at the data to figure out how the most citizens would benefit.

Watch the full debate here:


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