Marijuana legalization: Where Republican candidates for governor stand

Republican gubernatorial candidates' issue glance on marijuana. (Credit: Cook Shoots Food)

Apr 01, 2024

Six candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana governor in the May 7 primary. State Affairs is providing looks at their stances on several issues. Jennifer McCormick is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Indiana is among 12 states that have not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. With all surrounding states having some form of legalization, Indiana is an “island of prohibition.”

Illinois, Michigan and Ohio are among the 24 states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana use. Kentucky is one of the 14 states allowing the drug for medical use only.

Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Eric Holcomb have been united in opposition to any legalization in Indiana.

That comes even as annual polls by Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs find strong legalization support among Indiana residents. The center’s survey from December found 54% favor legalizing personal use and 32% support allowing medicinal use, with 10% against any legalization.

So, where do the six Republican candidates for governor stand on the question of marijuana legalization? 

Mike Braun: Possible support for medical use, opposed to recreational use as other states have allowed

“It’s gonna hit all of us. I’m gonna listen to law enforcement — they have to put up with the brunt of it. Medical marijuana is where I think the case is best made that maybe something needs to change. But I’ll take my cue from law enforcement there as well. … I hear a lot of input where [medical marijuana is] helpful, and I think that you need to listen and see what makes sense. 

Brad Chambers: Supports medical use only 

“I’m having seniors come up to me and veterans come up to me talking about legalizing marijuana. So I am supportive of medicinal marijuana being legalized. Now, that said, our federal government has screwed this up again. We have conflicts with federal laws and regulations and state laws and regulations that would have to get resolved to be able to evaluate recreational [use]. We need to make sure law enforcement is at the table, but we don’t want to trade one problem for another.”

Suzanne Crouch: Opposes any legalization 

“My family has struggled with mental illness and addiction — my mother, my brother, my sister, our daughter. So to me, personally, I am not in favor of legalizing marijuana. We need to be focused on getting help to those struggling with mental illness and addiction, which will be my top priority, not legalizing another drug.”

Eric Doden: Would consider medical use, opposes other legalization 

“I think we have a major addiction issue in our state. In fact, we have some of the highest addiction [rates] in the country for our young people and teenagers. So from my perspective and listening to law enforcement, they’re very clear of some of the challenges. The marijuana today is very potent, and it could lead to all kinds of challenges, and I think we can also see what’s happening in other states that have legalized marijuana. … I’m open to the idea of talking about it from a medical perspective, but I’m against the legalization of marijuana.”

Curtis Hill: Opposes any legalization 

“Marijuana use has destroyed many lives, and states that have legalized marijuana have seen an increase in black- market products fueled by Mexican cartels. … The decriminalization of marijuana undermines the efforts to protect public health and safety as it sends a message that unregulated drug use is acceptable without considering its potential risks and consequences.”

Jamie Reitenour: Opposes any legalization 

“The argument for medical marijuana is a secret bridge to recreational use. It hurts families and communities. It’s not good for life. I’m not for it.”

Tom Davies is a Statehouse reporter for State Affairs Pro Indiana. Reach him at [email protected] or on X at @TomDaviesIND.

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