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The California Effect: Medical Cannabis in Indiana?

This November a historic ballot initiative in California will establish for the first time in law the right to Cognitive Liberty in the form of a public question: Should cannabis be legalized for adult consumption, regulated and taxed like alcohol and sold to anyone over 21 years of age?

This vote will have a major effect far beyond the borders of California. In fact, the initial shockwave has already had a huge impact here in my home state. I work for an organization called ReLegalize Indana as Executive Director. RLI is focused on the effort to legalize industrial hemp cultivation and production and the establishment of a medical cannabis dispensary system like in the other 14 states, DC and Guam where medical cannabis is available via a doctor’s note.

The psychological effect of having an open debate about legalizing the adult recreational use of cannabis in the political epicenter of our country, California, is suddenly forcing people to debate the subject in states like Indiana where the subject has been taboo for so long. Medical cannabis advocates like myself and the members of RLI find that the debate has shifted to the point we now occupy the reasonable centrist position in asking our legislature for a medical cannabis law instead of asking for full recreational use legalization. Its a fine example of political juijitsu to find ourselves in this position.

Our biggest problem as a new organization in this debate is the fact that many Hoosiers are not aware of our organization and its goals. Our first goal is an economic development goal of passing a bill next year to allow farmers through the Indiana Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp in an experimental program modeled on the program operated in North Dakota that has been rather successful.

Indiana has many farmers who have begun leaving the tobacco farming business who are looking for a way to use their facilities already paid for to conduct tobacco farming which technique-wise is similar to the methods used to farm industrial hemp. Tobacco and hemp farmers both use manual labor intensive processes, specialized equipment for drying their crops and warehousing them and both crops yield about the same financially in world agriculture markets.

Hemp demand is rising worldwide as the more than 5000 products that can be made from hemp come into wider use. Hemp oil pressed from seeds and hemp cellulose ethanol are just two of the many products that are possible using hemp byproducts. Additionally, food, fiber, even plastics can be made from hemp. Several companies in Indiana have expressed interest in using hemp in their processes or already do so using imported hemp from other states, Canada and France. Indiana farmers could easily grow 4 times the yield of hemp on an acre as it compares to corn and could save small family farms that are going bankrupt in Indiana at alarming rates.

After we get industrial hemp passed RLI is going to introduce legislation to establish a medical cannabis dispensary and registration system modeled on the Michigan law. Despite the fact we are not a ballot initiative state, we think we can point to the successful system built in our neighboring state to the north as a guide for our legislators to model our law from.

Once California legalizes adult recreational use, we are confident other states will follow suit. With medical cannabis laws being debated in as many as 19 more states including neighbors Illinois and Ohio, as well as New York, we think federal reclassification of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act will happen sooner rather than later which will help us make our case to Hoosier representatives.

People ask me about a timeline for all of this and I hate to be a prognosticator. There are so many variables to this debate and no one can predict what the Indiana General Assembly will or will not do. It took 40 years to get Daylight Savings Time straightened out in this state, this is going to take a minute to get it done. However, because of our friends in California, we think a little sunshine from the Sunshine State is having a good effect on the debate Back Home Again in Indiana.

For more information about ReLegalzie Indiana visit or tune into the the weekly podcast The Seedling at BlogTalkRadio every Tuesday evening 7pm EDT. The podcast can be heard at

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Joh Padgett

Joh Padgett

I do the music column on Saturdays and the Primordial Grooves playlist on The Seminal blog on Sundays. I also own Layman Media, a social media production company in Indianapolis and I love cheese.