Attorney general candidate Weinzapfel calls on Indiana to legalize marijuana
The Republican nominee, former Congressman Todd Rokita, will square off against the Democrats’ choice, former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. Wochit
Democratic Indiana attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel is calling on the state to legalize marijuana, saying it could boost funding for public education while helping to reduce the state’s prison and jail populations.
In a statement released Monday, Weinzapfel said he believes regulated marijuana sales would help Indiana recover economically from the pandemic. He also pointed out that Indiana’s neighbors Illinois and Michigan already have legalized recreational use of marijuana.
“As Attorney General, I would work with the Indiana General Assembly to create a well-regulated system and advocate that tax dollars generated from the sale of recreational cannabis to be directed towards public schools and giving teachers a raise,” Weinzapfel said. “I also would push for a portion of those new dollars to be invested in supporting and improving public safety.”
Jonathan Weinzapfel (Photo: Courier & Press)
Weinzapfel, who was mayor of Evansville from 2003 to 2011, previously told IndyStar that he supported the regulation of marijuana for medicinal use but at the time he didn’t go as far as calling for legalization of the drug for recreational use. “I think we ought to decriminalize it as a state and approve its use for medicinal purposes under a doctor’s supervision,” Weinzapfel had said.
Brent Littlefield, a campaign adviser for Republican attorney general candidate Todd Rokita, said Weinzapfel’s call to legalize marijuana was another one of the Democrat’s “radical soft-on-crime ideas.” He added that “Todd fully supports current Indiana state law which allows for a judge to issue a Conditional Discharge for first time, small marijuana possession offenses.”
In an earlier interview with IndyStar, Weinzapfel said he supported Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ decision, announced last year, to not prosecute cases in which an individual’s only arrest charge is possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.
“Having a felony on the record of a lot of young people because of possession of small amounts of marijuana makes zero sense,” Weinzapfel said.
When IndyStar earlier this year asked Rokita whether he would support the decriminalization of marijuana in Indiana, Rokita said he would stand by the state’s lawmakers in his role as attorney general.
“Whatever the General Assembly comes up with is what I will defend, on this issue or any others.”Weinzapfel is calling on Indiana to legalize marijuana, saying it could help boost public education funding and reduce incarceration.
Indiana Governor Candidates Consider Marijuana Legalization Laws for 2020 Election
As the 2020 primary election approaches, the legalization of marijuana has been a prominent campaign topic for Indiana governor candidates to address.
Currently, selling or possessing marijuana is illegal in Indiana for recreational and medical purposes, with the exception of CBD oils containing less than .03% THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation.
Neighboring states Illinois and Michigan have fully legalized marijuana and Ohio has decriminalized marijuana and legalized it for medical purposes.
Incumbent Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is running for reelection as the Republican candidate. Holcomb has historically been against legalizing marijuana.
At a press conference in February 2019, Holcomb said he would not support legalizing marijuana until federal laws were changed. He recently said his views have not changed.
“If the law changed, we would look at all the positive or adverse impacts it would have,” Holcomb said. “I’m not convinced other states have made a wise decision.”
Dr. Woody Meyers is running for Indiana governor as the Democratic candidate. He has previously served as Indiana State Health Commissioner.
Meyers supports legalizing products containing THC for appropriate medicinal purposes, but not for full recreational use. He said there are potentially serious clinical effects, both mental and physical, for people who violate the use of THC products.
“There is some good evidence today that THC can be an adjunct in treatment of extreme seizures, seizure disorders and a variety of other illnesses,” he said. “And there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that it provides a relief for patients that are suffering from the effects of cancer, chemotherapy and some other illnesses.”
Donald Rainwater is running for Indiana governor as the Libertarian candidate. He supports decriminalizing medical and recreational marijuana usage.
He also said there are beneficial medical uses for marijuana.
“If beer, wine, and liquor are legal for adult recreational consumption, so should all forms of cannabis,” Rainwater said.
Both Meyers and Rainwater have said loosening restrictions on marijuana in Indiana would benefit law enforcement as well.
Rainwater said that anyone convicted of a nonviolent marijuana drug offense should have their sentence reduced and conviction removed.
“Our law-enforcement officials have higher priorities, and there is excellent evidence nationally of disproportionate sentencing in disenfranchised populations,” Meyers said.
The American Civil Liberties Union conducted a study in 2018 that found that black people were arrested 7.2 times more than white people for marijuana possession in Grant County, confirming Meyers’s statement about disproportionate sentencing.
Hoosiers agree that those caught possessing small amounts of marijuana should not serve jail time. According to a 2018 study conducted by Ball State, 78% of Hoosiers across all party affiliations said those convicted should not serve jail time.
Hoosiers have supported legalizing marijuana to some extent. The Ball State study also found that only 16% of Hoosiers thought marijuana should not be legal, while 42% thought it should be legal for medical use and 39% thought it should be legal for personal use.
The demographics most in favor for legalizing personal use were Hoosers ages 18 to 34 and democrats. With no specific marijuana-related proposals on the ballot, there is no voter action that can cause a change in current law.
If Holcomb is reelected, marijuana reform will likely remain out of state government. If Meyers or Rainwater is elected, some extent of marijuana reform would be discussed.Indiana Governor Candidates Consider Marijuana Legalization Laws for 2020 Election As the 2020 primary election approaches, the legalization of marijuana has been a prominent campaign topic for ]]>