Indiana News

Marijuana advocates launch new push as Senate candidate lights up

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Senate candidate on Wednesday said Indiana is missing out on economic and medical benefits by not legalizing the drug.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tom McDermott, currently the mayor of Hammond, released a new campaign ad on Wednesday morning that shows him smoking a joint with marijuana reform advocates in a back yard just over the state line in Illinois, where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational purposes.

McDermott said while marijuana legalization is not his top issue, it’s something for which both federal and state action is long overdue. He said legalizing it would mean Hoosiers would not have to worry about getting caught with cannabis products they purchased legally in neighboring states.

McDermott’s comments came during an event that kicks off a multi-city tour to promote marijuana legalization in Indiana, which is one of the shrinking number of states with no comprehensive medical cannabis law.

McDermott and Democratic Secretary of State candidate Destiny Scott Wells both said they support legalizing medical cannabis, if not recreational marijuana.

“There’s a whole industry in these states of doctors that will literally talk to you on the phone for 5 minutes and give you a medical card,” McDermott said of states that allow medical marijuana only. “So it’s sort of a fiction. I think it makes people feel better, but it’s sort of a fiction and I’m not into fiction. Let’s just make the move.”

State lawmakers this spring rejected several marijuana-related bills, ranging from limited medical use to outright recreational legalization.

During an event to promote the American Legion’s new Be The One campaign against veteran suicide, Gov. Eric Holcomb said cannabis is worth investigating further as a PTSD treatment, but Indiana should not change its laws unless Congress provides a legal framework. Marijuana is still classified as schedule I at the federal level, meaning it is not officially recognized as having any medical use.

“It’s still federally unlawful. It certainly is in the state of Indiana,” he said. “I am not opposed to more federal research, especially on the medicinal use of marijuana. We need to do this the legal way.”

Anecdotal evidence of cannabis’ efficacy at treating a variety of disorders is ample but peer-reviewed, controlled trials offer mixed results. In March of 2021, an FDA-regulated study found veterans with PTSD reported less severe symptoms after using cannabis for a sustained period.

A 2017 University of Washington analysis of multiple studies, however, concluded existing studies don’t offer a definitive answer one way or the other and using marijuana to treat PTSD could put someone at risk of dependency.