Cannabis Town Hall educates Hoosiers on science and uses of marijuana

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- A conversation about cannabis was had at the Goshen Public Library Thursday evening.

Put together by Liberty Offense, the Cannabis Town Hall was meant to educate Elkhart County residents about what marijuana is, and why 85% of Hoosiers support its legalization in some form, according to a 2022 Ball State study.

With Northern Indiana surrounded by legalized states, some call it ‘The Island of Prohibition.’

“We’re trying to get people the facts and the science behind cannabis,” says William Henry, co-director of Liberty Offense.

Looking at the possibility of legalization in Indiana, advocates argue if all else, the medicinal benefits of cannabis are difficult to deny.

The facts show that marijuana is used to treat several medical ailments and illnesses; from severe pain, to Alzheimer's, to MS, and even easing the invasiveness of cancer treatments. 

Although it’s illegal, the facts also show that a large percentage of Hoosiers are using marijuana. 

“The state of cannabis is that a whole lot of Hoosiers are using it and a whole lot of Hoosiers want to continue to use it without the threat of prosecution,” says Secretary with Indiana NORML, Jack Cain.

The discussion surrounding the legalization of cannabis goes beyond just using to get high.

Thursday night’s panelists spoke to the danger of the consequences for even just having some on you, its economic impacts in legal states, and the point that it’s a safer alternative to abusing prescription drugs.

“Understanding that they can help their people, give them options beyond opioids, and start there,” says Rick Anstiss with Michigan Weedsters.

The group Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis says the benefits of a medical card have shown to contribute to lowering veteran suicide rates and overdoses. 

“For me, it was being on opioids for nearly ten years through the VA system, and getting off those is a struggle for a lot of veterans and citizens too,” explains the organizer of Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis, Jeff Staker.

However, in Indiana, the conversation is one that falls to deaf ears in the statehouse, according to the panelists who have talked one-on-one with legislators. 

“I’m afraid they really don’t want to talk about it,” Cain says. “That’s why it’s important for people to get involved and talk to their legislators. 

“This isn’t Cheech and Chong and whatnot; this is just people that are trying to have a better quality of life,” says Staker.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has said he will not sign off on legalization in the Hoosier state, until cannabis is legal federally, but a new governor will be elected next year.

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