You might have thought it was a safe bet that Indiana would be among the last states to legalize marijuana in any form.
A new survey by Ball State University reveals a surprising result that changes the odds.
The university’s best experts take the pulse of Hoosiers every year on important issues.
This year, they found that 81 percent of Hoosiers believe marijuana should be legal for medicinal use, and 39 percent favor legalizing recreational use. Only 16 percent think it should not be legal in any form.
Our attitudes toward marijuana may reflect what’s going on just a few miles away, across the Michigan and Ohio borders.
In case you missed it, 12 days ago Michigan voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana — with 56 percent approval.
Michigan became the 10th state to make recreational marijuana legal — but the first in the Midwest. Medicinal marijuana already was legal in Michigan before this month’s vote.
To the east, Ohio has legalized medicinal use of marijuana and is phasing it in this fall.
In November 2019, Ohio will vote on taking the next step — allowing recreational use of marijuana. Ohio voters turned down that idea in 2015.
Before the end of the year, Michigan residents can begin personal possession of marijuana. Adults age 21 and older can keep up to 10 ounces in their homes, and they can grow up to 12 plants that are not visible from public places.
Retail sales of marijuana in Michigan will not begin until 2020.
Legalization in Michigan comes with many complications. Landlords and business owners can prohibit smoking marijuana on their properties. It will be illegal to smoke marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana. Employers still have the right to ban marijuana use by their workers.
Cities and towns will be able to block stores from selling marijuana inside their boundaries. They would not receive any tax revenue from marijuana sales if they do so. Cities and towns cannot ban personal possession by their residents.
Michigan will collect a 10 percent tax on marijuana sales, which ranks among the lowest rates in states with legal pot.
The referendum passed in Michigan does not pardon people who were arrested for marijuana possession before the vote. However, some top state officials, including the newly elected governor, have talked about expunging past convictions for minor offenses.
Michigan voters approved medical marijuana by a 63 percent “yes” vote 10 years ago.
Ohio’s legislature passed a medical marijuana law in 2016. Two years later, Ohio is ready to join a list of 30 states with medical marijuana. Its rollout aims to avoid problems found in other states, where prescriptions for medical marijuana became easy to obtain.
Ohio is issuing permits to only 56 dispensaries for medical marijuana. A limited number of state-certified doctors will be able to recommend marijuana. A state pharmacy board then must give final approval for a person to buy medical marijuana.
Ohio is allowing use of medical marijuana through edibles, oils, patches and vaporizing, but not smoking.
We expect Hoosier lawmakers to proceed cautiously on marijuana, and we believe that’s the right approach.
Despite the margin for error in surveys, 81 percent of Hoosiers favoring medical marijuana in Ball State’s poll sends a strong message. Our lawmakers should take notice and start watching and learning from the experiences of Ohio and Michigan.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.