The governor of one of the most conservative states, Indiana’s Eric Holcomb, admitted that he smoked marijuana in college during a February 27 press conference in Indianapolis.
“Have you ever used marijuana?” he was asked.
“Yes,” the Republican governor tersely replied.
“Even though it’s illegal?”
“When did you use it?”
Holcomb was born in 1968 and attended Hanover College in Hanover, IN from 1987-1990 where he was chapter president of Phi Gamma Delta.
He went on to say this about legalizing marijuana in the Hoosier State:
“I’d like to be in line with federal. And if federal law changed… it should change from being informed itself, not allowing some hodge-podge national effort to organically spring up because folks are looking the other way. This would require medical research and science to give us the true evidence on both the medicinal value and the efficacy of recreational use. That’s not here yet. As I understand it, there’s a 12-acre farm in Mississippi that’s responsible for doing the research. I’m not against that research being done. Quite frankly, just the opposite. The sooner the better. This is a message I delivered over the last four days to our nation’s leaders. And so, if the law changed, we would look at all the positive or adverse impacts it might have on our populations. But I’m not convinced that other states have made a wise decision, both short-term and long-term.”
Various legalization bills, both rec and medical, have been floating around the Indiana legislature for the last few years, but none have been voted on.
On Apr. 27, 2017, Gov. Holcomb signed into law legislation that allows people who suffer from seizures to use CBD oil as a treatment.
Holcomb was Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s lieutenant governor and succeeded him as governor after Donald Trump selected the arch-conservative Pence to be his running mate in 2016.
NORML Grades the Governors
According to NORML, “Never before have so many governors pledged their support for the responsible use of cannabis by adults. As a result, unprecedented levels of legislative activity pertaining to the regulation of the commercial cannabis market are anticipated at the state level in 2019 and 2020.”
In its 2019 Gubernatorial Scorecard, NORML provided the following key findings:
- Twenty-seven U.S. governors received a passing grade of C or higher (22 Democrats, 5 Republicans). Of these, nine governors—all Democrats— received an A grade; this marks a significant increase since 2018 when only two governors earned A grades. They are Gavin Newsom, California; Jared Polis, Colorado; Ned Lamont, Connecticut; J.B. Pritzker, Illinois; Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan; Tim Walz, Minnesota; Phil Murphy, New Jersey; Kate Brown, Oregon; and Jay Inslee, Washington.
- Only five (22%) Republicans received a passing grade of C or higher.
- All 23 (96%) Democratic governors received a passing grade of C or higher.
- Among the 20 governors assuming office for the first time in 2019, six (30%) received an A grade. All are Democrats.
And key takeaways:
- While almost half of all Democratic governors are now on record in support of adult-use regulation, no Republican governors currently advocate for this policy.
- The results of the 2018 midterm elections show that advocating for marijuana legalization is a successful state-level campaign issue, with 30% of newly elected governors on record voicing support for legalization. This shift among governors bodes well for the prospects of passage of successful legislative reforms in various states in 2019 and beyond.
- While only Vermont has legalized adult use via legislation (as opposed to voter initiatives), it’s likely that five additional states (Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island) may follow the Green Mountain State’s lead.
- Clearly, Republican governors are seriously out of step with the sentiment of voters when it comes to cannabis-law reform. Of the 19 governors receiving either D or F grades, all were Republicans. (Note: Holcomb received a D+ grade.) Yet such strong opposition, particularly to the question of medical cannabis access, is not shared by most Republicans. Just as Republican voters have evolved on the issue of marijuana-policy reform over the past decades, Republican elected officials must do likewise.
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Author: Steve Bloom