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Indiana lawmakers working on 2021 marijuana legislation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Just weeks ago, four U.S. states, including New Jersey and Arizona, voted to legalize marijuana in some form.

State Rep. Jim Lucas hopes Indiana is next.

“I’m filing a medical cannabis bill, a decriminalization bill, and see if we can’t get a recreational bill going also. It is past time,” said Lucas, a Republican from Seymour.

For years, Lucas has tried to make marijuana matter in Indiana. The way he sees it, this could be a green opportunity for the state, as Hoosiers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Jobs have been decimated. Almost a million Hoosiers were put out of work, during the spring and summer months. This is a jobs opportunity program. It’s an investment opportunity. I know we have investors willing to invest tens-of-millions of dollars, if not more, to come into our state and get this going,” said Lucas.

State Sen. Karen Tallian’s bill would legalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.

She says marijuana possession arrests in Indiana have gone from about 15,000/year, a decade ago, to close to 25,000 arrests a year.

“We’re going in the wrong direction. There’s just no need for this. It takes up court time, people’s time, money. It’s stupid that we keep prosecuting possession cases for small amounts, when in states all surrounding us, it’s legal,” said Tallian, a Democrat from Ogden Dunes.

After at least 10 years of filing cannabis legislation, she feels like more Hoosiers are talking about cannabis.

“The conversation keeps getting broader. I think the push to do something is getting stronger. Do I think this will happen this year? I don’t really. I don’t think the governor is ready to say yes to this,” she said.

State lawmakers have until Jan. 8, 2021 to file bills.