Lawmakers considered the advantages and shortcomings of legalizing Delta 8 and other cannabinoids. Committee members from the interim health committee heard testimony for and against legalization, from veterans using it to treat chronic pain to prosecutors worried about unintended consequences.
Though called to study the legalization of Delta-8, committee testimony largely centered on legalization of marijuana medicinally or for recreational use, which three of Indiana’s neighboring states allow. In the day’s final testimony to the committee, Seymour Rep. Jim Lucas humorously stated he needed “a gummy” himself after listening to four hours of discussion.
“We know there are so many positives for cannabis. Shame on us for criminalizing responsible Hoosiers that simply want a better quality of life—they don’t want to be put towards that place where they’re [suicidal]…because they can’t take it anymore,” Lucas stated, “begging” legislators to act. “It rests on you to make the decisions whether we move forward with a responsible cannabis program, or we continue to stay in the dark ages.”
Hemp Industry Lawmakers
Several representatives from the hemp industry and cannabis industry urged lawmakers to consider legalizing the substance, which Republicans have largely resisted for years by saying they want to wait for federal approval.
Hemp and marijuana are very different — largely based on the levels of chemical cannabinoids. Hemp is currently legal to produce with restrictions in Indiana but difficult to regulate because the plants for both substances look and smell similar and can only be distinguished in a laboratory, according to testimony.
“If Indiana had been available when we started in the state of Michigan, we would have started here with our investment,” stated Katie Wiley, the company’s chief legal officer and chief strategy officer.
“As a retailer in Michigan, we can tell you that we have Indiana residents buying from us in the state of Michigan. I want a regulated market (here)… (If) my child got on something, I would want to know what was in it.”
Conflicting Research on Proposed Legalization
Company officials at the Chamber of Commerce are pushing for a delay, saying Indiana’s testing capacity is not ready to reliably test for impairments. Mike Ripley, a vice president of the organization, said employers have trouble testing for drug use when marijuana can show up in tests days after use.
“We don’t know stuff like this (how to do it) yet, so we think the longer we wait to implement it, the more data will come out,” Ripley said. “We think time is on our side.”