Bills would legalize medical marijuana in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Two Democrats — one in the Senate and one in the House — have introduced bills that would allow the use of medical marijuana in Indiana.

Senate Bill 284, by Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, and House Bill 1487, by Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, would allow people with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Tallian’s bill would create the Department of Marijuana Enforcement, or DOME, which would oversee a program for those who use marijuana for treatment. The Democrat from Portage has long fought for legalization of marijuana in Indiana, but her efforts have failed. She has introduced bills that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Two bills Tallian wrote the past two years died without a hearing.

In an earlier interview with The Indianapolis Star, Tallian said she hoped a more narrowly defined bill focusing on people with certain medical conditions would gain more support in Indiana.

Errington, of Muncie, is advocating for medical marijuana use after hearing from constituents who are suffering from chronic pain and seizures, according to a news release. HB 1487 defines a “qualifying patient” as someone who has a written recommendation from a physician to use cannabis. Under Errington’s bill, people with medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and others could use cannabis for treatment.

But experts have said that the chances of a Republican-controlled legislature legalizing marijuana are pretty slim, and that Indiana likely would be one of the last states to do so.

Last month, Congress passed a spending bill that would end federal raids in states where medical marijuana is legal. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some fashion.