INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Democratic candidate for Indiana attorney general is calling on the state to legalize marijuana, saying that doing so would reduce the state’s prison and jail populations and generate millions of dollars for public education.
Jonathan Weinzapfel said Monday in a statement he believes that if state lawmakers approved regulated marijuana sales to adults, it would help Indiana recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic, relieve burdens on police and the court system and reduce “jail overcrowding across the state."
The former Evansville mayor said legalized marijuana would also generate funding for public education and allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. Weinzapfel noted that neighboring Illinois and Michigan have already legalized recreational use of marijuana, while neighboring Ohio permits medical marijuana.
“If you’re thinking about veterans who are taking it to treat PTSD or people with a terminal illness that are taking it to relieve their pain, why would these folks be threatened with jail time for possession or use of marijuana? It makes no sense,” he told WTTV-TV.
Weinzapfel said the nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates Indiana could generate upwards of $171 million annually by legalizing marijuana.
Weinzapfel faces former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita in the November election. Rokita narrowly defeated current Attorney General Curtis Hill for the GOP nomination in July after Hill faced allegations that he drunkenly groped a state lawmaker and three other women.
Rokita campaign adviser Brent Littlefield said Monday that Rokita does not support legalization of marijuana.
“Rokita backs current state law allowing a judge to issue a conditional discharge for first time small marijuana possession offenses," Littlefield said in a statement.