Marijuana Access Advocates Weigh Paths Forward In Indiana

Jun 7, 2017

Indiana may not join the next wave of states that legalize medical or recreational marijuana, but it doesn’t mean Hoosiers can’t partake in the booming business.

That was the message from national Marijuana Business Association founder Dave Rheins at a forum in Indianapolis Tuesday night.

In a cigar smoke-filled room at a downtown social club, he told a small crowd other states’ up-start marijuana sectors need lawyers, marketers, investors and agritech experts to get involved.

“You do not have to be a farmer to be a part of the cannabis and hemp revolution. … You do not have to touch the plant,” he says. “These small and medium businesses, they need money, but they need, more than that, your experience as professionals.”

Rheins also says Indiana’s vaping regulations and legalization of THC oil for seizure patients could be gateways to legalization in this state. Opponents of marijuana access say that’s not true.

For people like Jeff Staker, the issue is one of life and death. Staker founded the nonprofit Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis. He says medical marijuana would reduce opioid abuse and overdoses among ailing military veterans like him.

“Because if we don’t do anything, each day, more veterans are gonna die,” Staker says. “And obviously – civilians are dying too. But who’s that voice that our politicians seem to be listening to, or who gets their attention? Unfortunately, it’s us veterans.”

Staker says he invited Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to speak at Tuesday’s forum, but Hill declined. The AG recently penned an op-ed in the Indy Star to warn against medical marijuana legalization.