September 21, 2022

Lawmakers hear hours of testimony on decriminalization of cannabis

The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services is examining the possibility of decriminalizing simple marijuana possession, and potential health and economic benefits of THC products. - stock photo

The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services is examining the possibility of decriminalizing simple marijuana possession, and potential health and economic benefits of THC products.

stock photo

Indiana lawmakers heard more than four hours of testimony Tuesday on the regulation of marijuana and related substances.

The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services is examining the possibility of decriminalizing simple marijuana possession, and potential health and economic benefits of THC products. Indiana retailers are currently allowed to sell some marijuana-related products – like CBD, Delta-8 and Delta-9 products – but there’s no state regulatory body to oversee the industry.

Katie Wiley testified on behalf of Stash Ventures, a Michigan-based hemp company.

“It's not an industry that's relying upon economic incentives and so I think this is a great opportunity for Indiana,” Wiley said.

She said the company was founded in Indiana but has had success in Michigan after recreational marijuanna was legalized there in 2018.

Bo Whitney is the founder and chief economist at Whitney economics, a global leader in cannabis research, hemp research, data, and policy.

He said despite cannabis being illegal in Indiana, the state has the 17th largest market in the country at $2 billion.

“There are 1.7 million cannabis users in Indiana that have consumed in the past year,” Whitney said. “Citizens from the Hoosier State will consume about 958,000 pounds of cultivated output, cannabis cultivated output, all of that is being supplied right now on the illicit market,"  Whitney said.

Brock Patterson is with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. He told lawmakers that there are concerns about the need to improve testing capabilities in labs and associated costs.

The study committee must report its findings and make any recommendations by Nov. 1. It’s unlikely the legislature will address recreational marijuanna use in the next session. Legislation proposed during the 2022 session to create a committee to study the economic and social impacts of legalizing recreational marijuana did not get a hearing.

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