Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis gaining support

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, marijuana plants with their buds covered in white crystals called trichomes, are nearly ready for harvest in the "Flower Room" at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. Marijuana-friendly doctors in states with similar medical cannabis laws face starkly different treatment by government regulators. When it comes to oversight of doctors, enforcement practices vary in the 23 states allowing medical cannabis. How governments oversee pot doctors has become an issue even in more tolerant states such as California and Colorado. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis is getting more support as four major veteran groups join in on its mission.

“I think that the Indiana Legislature is willing to look at this, which they have not in the past,” State Rep. Sheila Klinker said.

As WLFI reported just last month, Rep. Klinker told Jeff Staker that Indiana would be the last state to pass medical marijuana for veterans. But now, it just might have a chance.

“With 11 pieces of legislation both in the House and Senate, that deal with medical cannabis, or hemp or cannabinoids, you know, we are getting a notice,” said Staker.

But not without the help from other organizations. Staker said the Indiana American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS now support Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis.

“Not only are 3 out of 4 Hoosiers supportive of it, over 80 percent of our veterans are supportive of it,” said Staker.

In December, the group aired a Public Service Announcement in hopes to influence people to contact their legislators on the issue.

We asked Staker if he thinks the PSA did its job?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I mean as you can see by the numbers in the past three or four weeks, it’s just overwhelming.”

Staker hopes progress continues, but he knows there will be road blocks with many conservative lawmakers.

“In whole, I have been cautious to have any opinion on that without getting the facts to see, you know,” State Sen. Ron Alting said. “Is it getting in the hands of young people? … I know in California the medical part is just wide open.”

Klinker added, “It would be very limited, if indeed, it would ever pass.”

However, Staker said he isn’t giving up until Hoosier veterans get the help they need.

“They say it’s not going to happen this year,” Staker said. “Maybe not, but in my eyes right now – the fight is on.”

Staker said he’s also meeting with Gov. Eric Holcomb to talk about the issue soon. He said he will concentrate on the fact medical marijuana could help Holcomb accomplish his goal to fight the opioid epidemic.

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