TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – As the primary election season is just one week away, marijuana legalization is one of many topics up for debate.
The Indiana Democratic Party tells News 10 that more than 80% of Hoosiers support marijuana legalization in some form.
Others are not in favor of the legalization.
A disabled veteran who is a cannabis advocate spoke to News 10.
He said cannabis has helped him get off opiates.
As state Democrats push for legalization in all forms, some Indiana Republicans are urging caution.
These include Rep. Bruce Borders of Jasonville and Rep. Bob Heaton of Terre Haute.
In a statement to News 10, Heaton said:
“While I believe cannabis has certain medical benefits that could help various neurological and mental health conditions, I do not support legalizing it for recreational use. Besides the fact that it remains illegal on the federal level, removing criminal penalties will likely lead to more impaired drivers on our roadways and more young Hoosiers being tempted to use yet another substance that harms their development. I welcome further study on marijuana before considering any changes to our current laws.”
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The issue of legalizing marijuana is personal to disabled veteran Jeff Piper.
He advocates for cannabis because he says it relieved him of 37 years of opiate use.
Piper says the drugs took him down a very dark road.
“The opiates in that much time had really killed my will. I put a pistol in my mouth, I felt like killing myself,” Piper said.
Piper now advocates for the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.
He says it is especially important to legalize it in Indiana.
He argues that all surrounding states have legalized marijuana in some form.
Indiana Rep. Bruce Borders disagrees with legalizing marijuana.
He says Indiana should not follow other states that have legalized marijuana.
“Just because Illinois taxes everybody to death, do we, should do that as well? I’ve never liked that argument, that, well, ‘just because another state is doing it, therefore, we should do it,'” Borders said.
Piper says he relies on cannabis to stay off opiates, but cannot while living in the Hoosier State, so, he is considering leaving.
“I have to stay off of those meds and I won’t get back on them, but the only way I can do that in the state of Indiana is to break a law. And I don’t see that is being a good choice, so I will take my income elsewhere,” Piper said.
Borders believes marijuana is not only bad financially, but it is bad for the state of Indiana.
“I truly do view as smoking recreational marijuana as bad for society. Just because something brings in money, do we legalize it? Do we legalize prostitution?” Borders said.
Piper says that even if marijuana is legalized, it is important to not operate under the influence, but, borders said this will only lead to more impaired driving cases.