Indiana lawmakers expect to discuss cannabis at this session

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican legislative leaders at the Indiana Statehouse say they expect to discuss cannabis legislation in this session.

Indiana is one of 13 states that have not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Lawmakers haven’t shared details about their plans, but Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) said he expects potential regulations on Delta-8, the chemical compound in hemp, to be included in their discussions.

“I think you’ll see how we talk about that in this legislature,” Bray said. “I’m not going to tell you exactly what we’re going to do in the end. It makes perfect sense to start building infrastructure, including for example Delta-8, to try and map out what that would look like and have regulation for that.”

Hemp was legalized federally in 2018, but there haven’t been many regulations regarding Delta-8 products.

At reLEAF Wellness Co. in Fishers, co-owner Mickey Hurley says his team is restricting the sale of Delta-8 products to customers 21 and older, even though the compound provides a weaker high than Delta-9 in marijuana.

That’s why he would support some government regulations for the product, such as age restrictions, he said.

“Age of purchase, maybe licensing, something like that, just to give it more legitimacy and give the public some assurances of its safety,” Hurley said.

Earlier this year, Republicans backed legislation that would have imposed a ban on Delta-8, but it died before the last session ended.

Republican lawmakers have previously opposed legalizing marijuana, arguing that the state should not act before the federal government.

Earlier this year, lawmakers held a committee meeting to study the issue.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) told reporters he was not ruling out anything at this session.

“Personally, I remain skeptical, but I also recognize that people want to have this conversation,” Huston said. “We had it over the summer and we’ll see what our committee chairs decide.”

Meanwhile, Democrats argue Indiana is overdue to take action on cannabis legislation.

“I say we kick the door wide open,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis). “We should at least put together a commission because the federal government will do something.”

Lawmakers return to the Statehouse on Jan. 9.