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House Republicans refuse to vote on Errington’s plans to legalize medical marijuana in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) today offered two proposals to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Indiana, only to see House Republicans reject both.

Errington’s first amendment would have created a medical marijuana program that enabled both patients and caregivers who have received a physician’s recommendation to possess a certain quantity of marijuana for treatment of chronic and treatable medical conditions. It also would have established a regulatory agency to oversee the program, and created an opportunity for further study of the benefits of medical marijuana in Indiana.

Errington’s second amendment would have provided a medical defense for any person charged with possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana or paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, and grinders. The defense would have been applicable only if a physician provided written certification that the person suffers from a terminal or serious, untreatable illness, and the medical benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.

House Republicans refused to allow debate or vote on both of these proposals.

“I’m disappointed because I introduced these amendments to have an open and honest debate on the House floor about whether or not Indiana should legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but House Republicans still refuse to allow this debate to happen,” Errington said.

The medical use of marijuana is legal in 34 other states across the country. Based on recent survey results Errington collected, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in Indiana is supported by more than 70 percent of her constituents in the 34th House District. Also, according to a 2016 WTHR - Howey Politics Indiana Poll, nearly 3 out of every four Hoosiers supports legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“Since becoming a leading voice in the General Assembly on this issue, I have heard from so many people across our state about the benefits of medical marijuana, particularly those who have served in our armed forces,” she continued, noting that groups supporting the availability of medical marijuana include the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, American Veterans (AMVETS), and Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis.

“In light of the opioid epidemic, Hoosiers with chronic or terminal conditions have told me that they would prefer the option to be prescribed medical marijuana over a synthetic drug, such as an opioid, to help relieve their pain,” Errington said.

“This is personal to me, too,” she noted. “Toward the end of his life, my husband was administered a drug to help relieve the symptoms from his disease. The drug put him in a coma-like state that prevented him from being able to say goodbye to me before he passed away. If medical marijuana was a legal option in Indiana at that time, we likely would have chosen that route to help relieve his pain because it would have given us the chance to say goodbye to each other before he passed away. I want to give other wives, husbands and families the chance we were denied.

“Indiana already recognizes the medicinal value of CBD oil, which contains a chemical compound found in marijuana,” Errington said. “I see no reason why we cannot expand the scope of our law to include marijuana itself.

“We can continue to stick our heads in the sand on this issue, or we can accept the reality that medical marijuana is becoming an accepted plan for treatment in many parts of this country,” Errington said. “It’s time to implement common sense, evidence-based regulations governing the use of medical marijuana. This issue will not go away simply because it makes some people uncomfortable.”

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