IN Focus: New support for medical marijuana in Indiana?

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Hoosier veterans are promising to lead the way when it comes to legalized medical marijuana in Indiana.

They made their voices heard at a recent medical cannabis town hall at the state library. Jep Staker is a former Marine sniper who at one time was taking opioids. He realized his dosages were increasing, as was his risk for overdose. That's when he asked his VA doctor about cannabis.

"I took a good look at it and I talked with my doctor," said Staker. "And I asked him, 'What about all these states passing medical cannabis laws?' and the doctor said, 'You know if I could recommend it or prescribe it, I would.' And I said, 'Say no more.'"

State Rep. Sue Errington attended the town hall as well. She told CBS4 surveys of her constituents in Muncie showed an overwhelming number of supporters for medical marijuana.

"You look at the devastation from opioids and then you look at marijuana. I mean, you're not finding people dying from marijuana and you're finding people who tell me that when they've been able to get it, it relieves them of pain that they are having."

Stephen Dillon, attorney and Libertarian, sponsored early legislation legalizing marijuana. He says the data is clear.

"There's 25 percent less overdoses in the medical marijuana states and there are like 60 percent fewer narcotic prescriptions being written and fewer trips to the ER," said Dillon. "And I figured we'd save 300-400 lives a year in Indiana if we had medical marijuana.

The real test is, can this issue even get a hearing in the state legislature?  There are several groups opposing the idea of medical marijuana, including county prosecutors.  State Rep. Jim Lucas, who’s done his own research by visiting  dispensaries in Illinois and Colorado, says the time has come for honest conversations about medical marijuana.

“We’re seeing 30 states now have medical programs. Ten states have a recreational program and that number is growing,” he said.

For more on the medical marijuana debate, click here.

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