A local legislator known for tackling controversial issues, including gun control, has found another one he wants to tackle.
District 69 State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said he plans to file a bill to make the use of medical marijuana legal in Indiana.
“I am going to force the issue on this,” Lucas said Thursday morning.
He said he has heard from people through email, text messages and social media, and some have even stopped by his awning business in Seymour to talk about it in recent days.
“A veteran with Stage 4 cancer stopped and had tears in his eyes,” Lucas said. “He said he didn’t want to feel like a criminal when there was something that could help.”
Lucas said he began looking at the idea of supporting medical marijuana after learning the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission reportedly raided a store for selling CBD (cannabidiol) hemp oil, a substance that has been used to cure chronic pain.
He said it is legal to sell and use CBD oil in the state and across the country.
It’s also legal for people to obtain highly addictive prescription opioids, which have caused thousands of deaths across the country, he said.
Medical marijuana, however, is not legal — something Lucas hopes to change by filing a bill in the 2018 legislative session.
“It makes sense, and it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Lucas said the state’s decision to raid a store selling CBD hemp oil is just another example of how confusing state law can be at times.
After reading about the therapeutic and medicinal uses of the oil, Lucas said he began researching the benefits of medical marijuana and how it has helped people.
“I’ve read a lot of personal stories,” he said.
Bonnye Good of Seymour has her own personal views on the legalization of medical marijuana.
“After watching my father suffer terribly from cancer treatment, I became a huge proponent of medical marijuana,” she said. “I’m looking forward to hearing more about this from Mr. Lucas.”
While he doesn’t know everything about the issue, Lucas said he doesn’t buy into the argument that marijuana is a “gateway drug” to the usage of other more dangerous drugs.
“Opioids are a gateway drug,” he said.
Seymour resident Michelle Hallett is recovering from an addiction to methamphetamine. She is now involved in the Jackson County Drug Awareness Action Team and agreed that medicinal marijuana is safer than opioids in relieving chronic pain.
“It (medicinal marijuana) is a more natural solution,” she said. “You don’t hear of people overdosing on marijuana, and it would be safer than getting them hooked on another type of medication that could potentially have worse side effects.”
Hallett said the revenue generated from the sale of medicinal marijuana could be used to fund other needed programs in the state.
Lucas said his main concern is the needs of his constituents and how the state can help meet those needs.
That includes taking a look at the incident involving the CBD hemp oil.
“If our laws are that convoluted and confusing and the state doesn’t know what it is doing, we as lawmakers have an obligation to step in and correct them,” he said.
Lucas said he has the same passion about medicinal marijuana as he does gun rights.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of positive response,” he said of the medical marijuana debate. “It’s an issue that’s time has come.”