INDIANAPOLIS — Within the next month, recreational marijuana will be legal in three of the four states that neighbor Indiana.
Ohio voters approved this on Tuesday and will soon join Illinois and Michigan as well as about 20 other states with legalized marijuana.
It will also become medicinally available in Kentucky in 2025. As Hoosiers sit in the middle of these recent changes in neighboring states, it is creating a bigger business divide. Still, the head of state law enforcement has major safety concerns about making changes.
“Right now, marijuana is illegal in Indiana, and I know I am on an island almost by myself, but I think it needs to stay that way,” Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter told FOX59/CBS4 on Wednesday.
In a one-on-one interview, Superintendent Carter was not afraid to share his thoughts on legalizing marijuana. Cannabis is now just a car ride away in almost every direction from Indiana. To that end, Carter argues the increasing ease of access is making it harder to investigate OWIs.
“It makes it really, really complicated and much more complicated than when it was just one intoxicant, that being alcohol,” he said.
The state’s top law enforcement official worries roadside safety is in serious jeopardy.
“It’s becoming very complicated, and we know that serious bodily injury crashes are going to increase,” Carter said. “We know there’s going to be a greater increase in fatal crashes.”
However, proponents of marijuana legalization say Indiana is missing out on a major taxation opportunity.
“Michigan currently is set to receive $3 billion in revenue for the year of 2023,” said Katie Wiley, the chief legal and strategy officer for Stash Ventures, LLC. “Direct impact to the state of that is around $300 million. That’s a lot of money that could be impacting Hoosiers.”
Wiley is with Stash Ventures, a company headquartered in Fishers that produces and sells marijuana. The company has six stores, three growing facilities and one processing facility in southwest Michigan. It does not sell marijuana in Indiana.
Wiley argues the state is falling behind.
“We all in the cannabis growing market have capacity to grow more flower, and if we wait for federal legalization, we’ll simply grow more flower and ship it across state lines,” she said. “So Indiana misses the opportunity to deepen the available job market.”
Wiley also said Hoosiers are already flocking to neighboring states to buy pot.
“We have a single store across state lines that has done almost $2 million of revenue directly attributable to Indiana driver licenses,” she said.
And if you cross the state line with any product, remember, it is still illegal under Indiana statute.
“If you possess it, you are in violation of Indiana law whether you bought it at a place where it is legal or not,” Carter said.
A survey of Hoosiers within the last year from Ball State University and Indiana Public Broadcasting shows 85% of respondents believe marijuana should be legal in some form while 15% said it should be illegal.
As recently as last week, a state lawmaker on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee told us they have no current draft recommendations for legalizing cannabis.