Democrats in Indiana are trying to appeal to voters across party lines by pushing for marijuana legalization.
INDIANAPOLIS — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Thomas McDermott Jr. is calling for the legalization of marijuana in Indiana and doing it with a campaign ad that shows him smoking weed.
The ad, strategically released on 4/20, begins with a shot of McDermott lighting up in a backyard in Illinois. He then discusses legalization of marijuana with a group of advocates.
“Veterans deserve this. Some of the people I served with use it medicinally for anxiety and PTSD-related issues,” said McDermott, who served in the U.S. Navy.
The ad claims to have been shot one mile across the border into Illinois. It features attorneys, a physician, distiller and a Hammond city councilor.
“Here’s the bottom line: We need to legalize marijuana on the federal level. We need to also legalize cannabis in Indiana as well, so that Hoosiers can get the health and the economic benefits of cannabis. That’s the future we all deserve,” McDermott said as the ad ends.
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Democrats in Indiana are trying to appeal to voters across party lines by pushing for marijuana legalization, which has polled as highly popular among Hoosiers on both sides of the aisle.
A 2016 poll conducted by WTHR and Howey Politics Indiana showed 73% of Hoosiers supported legalizing medical marijuana. That support cut across party lines, with about 60% of Republican respondents and more than 80% of Democrats voicing approval for medical cannabis.
Two years later, that number jumped to 81%, according to a statewide poll by Ball State University.
In that same 2018 poll, a vast majority of Hoosiers – 78% – said there should be no jail time for individuals who possess small amounts of marijuana. Only 16% of Hoosiers thought marijuana use should remain illegal.
Indiana remains one of 14 states with no medical cannabis law, aside from Senate Enrolled Act 52, which allowed low-THC CBD derived from industrial hemp to be sold at no more than 0.3 THC.
Democrats and some Republicans have made many attempts at legalizing marijuana in the past. In 2021, there were 10 bills filed, but they all failed.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has also voiced his opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana. He has also continued to oppose medical marijuana, saying in the past that he would not approve it without more research.
RELATED: Should Indiana legalize marijuana? Holcomb says federal government should decide first
Indiana is one of 19 states that puts people in jail for simple marijuana possession, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
The first time you are convicted of possessing any amount of marijuana, you could face 180 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. Prior offenses and accusations of possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana can mean a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
More than 30 grams of weed and a past offense can lead to six months to 2 1/2 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000.
Fines for growing weed in Indiana are steeper.
The sale, cultivation and manufacture of cannabis is a crime. 30 grams or less is one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. If the charge is more than 10 pounds, that carries a potential 1- to 6-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
In 2019, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced it would not prosecute “simple marijuana” charges. Hundreds of cases have been dismissed for people picked up for having an ounce or less of marijuana.
Prosecutor Ryan Mears is expected to continue his call for decriminalization during a news conference later Wednesday.