Where Indiana’s candidates for governor stand on marijuana legalization

(Credit: Kristi Xhelili)

Oct 27, 2023

Indiana is now one of 12 states that have not legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use. Whomever gets elected in the 2024 gubernatorial elections could influence whether Indiana moves off that list or not. 

Here’s where each of the gubernatorial candidates stand on the issue of marijuana legalization: 

US Sen. Mike Braun

Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun declined to comment. But in a 2019 interview he signaled his support for medical marijuana legalization. 

“I believe when it comes to medical marijuana there are too many good reasons why you need to start making that legal for that purpose,” he told WTWO-TV/WAWV-TV.

Brad Chambers

Of the Republican gubernatorial candidates reached by State Affairs, only Brad Chambers, the former secretary of commerce, left the door open for potential marijuana legalization.

“I haven’t spent much time yet on this issue,” he said in an emailed statement, “but as we hear more about the potential of reclassification at the federal level, I think we should evaluate the potential positive and negative impacts, learn from what other states have experienced, and determine the best path forward for a healthy and successful Indiana.”

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch

Republican Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said she is opposed to legalization.

“My family’s history of battling addiction and law enforcement’s stand against marijuana lead me to believe now is not the time for legalization,” she said in an emailed statement.

Crouch has been outspoken about her support for mental health and addiction resources, freely sharing her own family’s struggles with depression, suicide and alcoholism. 

Eric Doden

Businessman Eric Doden said in an emailed statement that he is opposed to legalizing marijuana.

“My campaign is about making Indiana’s communities safer and stronger,” said Doden, a former Indiana Economic Development Corp. president, “and I don’t believe legalizing drugs is a way to achieve that goal.” 

Curtis Hill

Former Attorney General Curtis Hill, a Republican, attributed his opposition to legalization to his legal experience. 

“As someone who has spent a lifetime defending justice and prosecuting criminals, I have witnessed, first hand, the devastating impact drugs are having on our communities,” he said in an emailed statement. “Marijuana use has destroyed many lives, and states that have legalized marijuana have seen an increase in black market products fueled by Mexican cartels. As Governor, I will oppose the decriminalization of marijuana and protect our communities from the influx of marijuana, fentanyl, and other federally prohibited substances.”

He also references the lack of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. 

“The decriminalization of marijuana undermines the efforts to protect public health and safety,” he said, “as it sends a message that unregulated drug use is acceptable without considering its potential risks and consequences.”

Jennifer McCormick

Jennifer McCormick, the lone Democrat in the race and former superintendent of public instruction, said she supports legalizing marijuana.

“It is time Indiana listened to the majority of Hoosiers and developed a legal, well-regulated cannabis market,” she said in an emailed statement. “This opportunity would boost our economy by welcoming an industry proven to add millions of dollars to the state budget — just as 37 other states have demonstrated.”

In fiscal year 2022, state cannabis taxes generated a total of $2.9 billion in taxes across 11 states. 

McCormick added that there would be medical benefits to legalization as well. 

“Legalizing medical marijuana would be the first step and carries the benefit of providing doctors one more tool in treating suffering patients,” McCormick said. “Indiana must take this even further by passing legislation decriminalizing marijuana to support impacted Hoosiers and the criminal justice system.”

Donald Rainwater

On his website, Libertarian Donald Rainwater said he supports decriminalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use. 

“Military veterans and others who suffer from psychological, emotional, and physical pain should not be denied a proven, viable alternative to highly-addictive narcotics,” according to his campaign website “If beer, wine, and liquor are legal for adult recreational consumption, so should all forms of cannabis.”

Jamie Reitenour

Republican Jamie Reitenour did not respond to a request for comment through her campaign email.

Contact Kaitlin Lange on X @kaitlin_lange or email her at [email protected]

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Header image: (Credit: Kristi Xhelili)

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