A new organization of business leaders has formed to advocate for the legalization of adult use of cannabis in Indiana. Indiana Cann argues that the potential tax revenue could bring $171 million into the state if it were to adopt Colorado's tax policy.
The non-profit organization said the cannabis industry could help small communities in the state by providing a recession-proof industry.
Organizers said every $1 of legal cannabis sold spurs an additional $2.50 in economic activity.
Half Moon Hemp owner Adam Gillatte grows hemp and is a board member of Indiana Cann. He said he wishes Republican lawmakers that oppose legalization would spend time learning about cannabis and the industry.
"And not thinking of this as gangsters and thugs, but really looking at: how do we use our best resources in the state?" Gilatte said. "We've got the right soil. We've got the right farmers. We have perfect conditions.”
State lawmakers from both parties will again propose legislation to legalize cannabis for medical use. This year the goal is to at least get a public hearing on the topic. A 2018 summer study committee heard hours of testimony on medical use.
A survey conducted by Old National Bank and Ball State University in 2018 found that about 8 in 10 Hoosiers support legalized cannabis in some form.
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Three of Indiana’s neighboring states have legalized cannabis for at least medical use, joining more than 35 states in the country.
Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) said at a legislative conference his bill will focus on legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, using language from a cannabis legalization bill that passed in Alabama. He said not only would it provide medicine for some Hoosiers, but also revenue for the state.
“Why are we losing all this money?" Ford said. “I mean, we heard from a couple of the people today that, you know, you drive to Illinois, or Michigan and you see Indiana license plates. You know, that those are just dollar signs that we're – that we're not putting into our coffers. And that just doesn't make any sense to me.”
Ford said that money collected could go to help invest in mental health and education.
Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) said he also plans to propose legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis.