Whenever I am asked how far Indiana is from legal marijuana, my answer is 80 miles. Take I-74 to Illinois. Get off at exit 220, turn right and walk approximately half a mile to Sunnyside Dispensary. You’ll know you’re there because the parking lot will have more Hoosier plates than the Indy 500. The same can be said of Michigan.
In this legislative session, Democrats in Indiana say they will push for the legalization of marijuana. However, as you know, they are in the super minority, so don’t expect too much of them. Republicans, on the other hand, have the potential to be another story.
A September poll shows that most Republicans in Indiana support some form of legalization when it comes to marijuana.
The poll conducted by BK Strategies last September shows that 52% of Republicans polled support legalization for both medical and recreational use, while only 40% oppose it. This is compared with 65% of the general population supporting both medicinal and adult use, while only 28% oppose it. Sixty-seven percent of independents supported it, while 20% opposed it.
When it came to legalization for medical purposes only, the numbers were much higher. Seventy-four percent of Republicans supported the use of medical marijuana, while only 17 percent opposed it. For all voters, 79% were in favor of medical use while 13% were against. Among independents, the numbers were 77-9.
When it comes to funding critical spending priorities like roads and education, 72% of Republicans supported the use of marijuana fees, while only 10% approved tax increases. Among all voters and independents, the number was 71%, respectively. Thirteen percent of all voters polled supported the tax increases, while only 12 percent of independents did.
As to whether cannabis was immoral, an overwhelming majority said no: 67% for Republicans, 78% for all voters, 85% for independent voters, 71% for regular devotees and 61% for Christian conservatives.
And by the end of the survey, âpost-messagingâ support for legal and medicinal marijuana increased: 58-36 for Republicans, 68-25 for all voters, and 70-20 for independent voters.
The results of the BK Strategies poll were quite similar to those conducted by Indy Politics in August. We surveyed over 400 voters in Marion County. We found that two-thirds of voters (65%) support full legalization of the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, with an additional 20% in favor of legalizing marijuana strictly for therapeutic purposes.
Seventy-six percent of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 51% of Republicans support full legalization, with an additional 17% Democrats and Independents and 26% of Republicans supporting legalization of medical marijuana.
The BK Strategies poll polled 600 potential voters for the general election with an additional oversample of 100 Republican voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%. The Republicans-specific date had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3%.
I’m talking about it because, with the broad support for Mary Jane’s legalization, there is no reason the GOP can’t get the ball rolling on legalization. I understand the reluctance of federal law, but there’s no reason my Republican friends can’t get the ball rolling on legal weed, so when it does become legal, and it will be, all this that the state of Indiana will have to do is flip a switch.
There are at least 33 states that have legalized recreational or medicinal marijuana. This means that there are at least 33 states Indiana can examine and see exactly how the system should work.
This is also not to mention the millions in tax revenue that can be generated. And as the technology develops, we will be able to determine if anyone was driving a vehicle under the influence.
So frankly, I don’t see why my Republican friends wouldn’t get the ball rolling on legalizing marijuana, and it’s not rocket science. Now if you don’t mind I have to type I-74; I have groceries to do.
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is a lawyer, political commentator and publisher of IndyPolitics.org. You can email him your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.