Indiana lawmaker pushes for medical marijuana to curb opioid epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana republican lawmaker plans to file a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in hopes it could curb the state’s opioid epidemic.

Rep. Jim Lucas said he has heard from several people in his district who believe they could benefit from the drug.

"People telling me their personal stories, how they've been helped by this product, how far behind Indiana is on this issue,” said Lucas. “That right there, we have a responsibility to at least investigate it and determine the facts, and if there is something positive out there, we have to pursue that."

Lucas said his research of medical marijuana was sparked after learning the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission reportedly raided a store for selling CBD oil – a substance people have been using to cure pain.  

"It's woke people up that we have to do something. It's forcing us to consider things that might have been taboo or off-limits just a few months or even a year ago,” he said.

Members of the American Legion would like to see the drug used to help veterans who suffer from PTSD.

In an op-ed published earlier this summer, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill wrote, “Simply legalizing marijuana as medicine is just a timid way of tiptoeing into waters that conscientious lawmakers know in their hearts should be avoided.”

In May, the Indiana State Department of Health found there was a 60-percent increase in reports of non-fatal emergency room visits due to opioid overdoses from 2011-2015. At the same time, opioid-related deaths increased by an average of 3.5 percent each year.

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