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Summers: Proposed cannabis reclassification could spark full legalization in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS – On April 30, the Biden administration announced a plan to reclassify cannabis for the first time since 1971 when the Controlled Substances Act was signed into law. The proposal would change the drug from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance, acknowledging its potential medicinal viability and removing its label as one of the most addictive, dangerous drugs.

Please attribute the following statement to State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis):

“The Biden Administration is taking an important first step in reducing the negative stigma surrounding cannabis. Currently, cannabis is designated as a dangerous substance alongside the likes of heroin, a clearly ridiculous comparison. Cannabis is shown to have promising therapeutic benefits. Early research indicates the drug's effectiveness in mitigating symptoms caused by conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety and chronic pain. A reclassification could break the barriers restricting further cannabis research that could positively impact healthcare for all Hoosiers.

“The potential of this reclassification extends even past medical applicability. By altering federal law, states like Indiana that criminalize the drug are more likely to follow suit. Though the proposed reclassification would not result in the federal legalization of recreational cannabis, it could get the ball rolling here in Indiana.  If fully legalized, cannabis could bring in an additional $171 million in annual revenue for our state.  In turn, this revenue can then be used to stimulate our economy and provide necessary funding for schools and other critical infrastructure. As it stands, Indiana is missing out while our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio are raking in easy profits.

“But there is also the human element to consider. Hoosiers are currently being dragged off to prison over a drug that 24 other states have already legalized. And of course, the racial component of this issue cannot be ignored. While white and Black individuals use cannabis at similar rates, Black users are far more likely to face repercussions. In Indiana, Black people are 3.5x more likely to be arrested for possession when compared to their white counterparts. The data is clear: Criminalization disproportionately punishes Black Hoosiers, labeling them as dangerous criminals.

“Hoosiers want legal cannabis. A 2022 survey conducted by Ball State University found that 85% of Hoosiers are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Still, Republicans continue to fight against the will of the people. Our state is falling behind, and something must be done to get us back on track. I am hopeful that this proposed reclassification is the catalyst our legislature needs to spring into action.”

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