Members of the Westfield community heard from local lawmakers and CannaMedU organizers during a roundtable event on November 11th at Your CBD Store in Westfield.
CannaMedU hosted the event to stimulate discussion on the legalization of medical cannabis. Speeches at the event were State Sen. Greg Taylor, Indianapolis, and retired State Sen. Jim Merritt. The CannaMedU founders Pam Trapp and Heather Beuke Diers organized the discussion. Local political figures in attendance included Donald Rainwater, a Liberal who ran for Westfield Mayor in 2019, and Victor McCarty, a member of the Westfield Plan Commission. Many veterans also attended.
“It really means a lot that we have people who come up and stand up for an issue that may have a certain stigma attached to it,” said Trapp. “We’re trying to get more people to come to us and make it a discussion group, as opposed to a town hall. We want to take politics out. Even if you are against it, we want to hear about it and know why. “
Beuke Diers said the organizers of CannaMedU had decided to work directly with legislators this year. The majority of the round table participants support the legalization of medical cannabis.
Taylor said the event was the first time he had ever visited a CBD store. CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but THC makes a person feel “high” while CBD doesn’t. CBD is legal in Indiana. CBD is also found in the hemp plant.
“Where we are in Indiana, we are clearly not like our surrounding states, which have been pushing for this legislation,” said Taylor. “I think it’s because of a lot of fears, but I also think it’s because of the actually conservative looks of the state of Indiana. We just don’t make big leaps. We have never had that before. “
Taylor said the Indiana people use cannabis, but it is being imported illegally. He said the next step would be to legalize cannabis so the state can decide who can access it.
“Where do we want it? Do we want it to be with kids in high school? I don’t, ”said Taylor. “Do we want it to be a catalyst for putting people in jail? Not me. It costs us. The next piece, when you have it here, is the piece we are responsible for, how do you regulate it? How do you make sure people who shouldn’t have it aren’t getting it? There is a black market out there that will continue until you create a system that says, ‘I can legitimately do this.’ “
Taylor said regulating medical cannabis can help keep it out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have it. He also said he doesn’t think Indiana has come anywhere near legalization of recreational cannabis.
“Quite simply, anyone who thinks Indiana is going to get into adult consumption doesn’t think about it or let it come to their mind,” said Taylor. “I think we’re not there yet. I’ll just be straightforward and straightforward. “
Merritt said the cannabis plant has multiple uses.
“We have so many great uses for the cannabis plant itself that it would be very productive and very smart if the legislature moved forward next year,” said Merritt.
Merritt, a Republican, and Taylor, a Democrat, agreed that legalizing medical cannabis is an impartial idea. Taylor said lawmakers could be more open to legalizing cannabis once they learn of the benefits.
“I started selling anti-Sunday alcohol (booze) until I was educated about the need and convenience,” said Taylor. “What we created was a black market in and of itself, and the second part was that people who want alcohol can get it anyway.”
37 states have legalized cannabis in some form, be it for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Merritt said one of the main hurdles to legalizing medical cannabis is the gray area that comes with traffic delays and restricted driving.
“Not only is the state slow and conservative, but many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are concerned about the traffic stops,” Merritt said. “As soon as something happens, if we can find out the traffic control with a swab of their saliva and find a certain amount of THC in the body, it is difficult because THC can stay in the body for a certain period of time. To be fair to prosecutors, it makes the water cloudy. It is very difficult for them to make a decision and keep people safe. ”
Visit cannamedu.com for more information.