INDIANAPOLIS — Medical marijuana advocates were urged Saturday to toss carbon-friendly seeds onto the lawns of legislators as an act of civil disobedience to show support for legalizing cannabis in Indiana.
"They can't put us all in jail. Until it hits home for them, until they have somebody who has cancer, until they have somebody who's in pain, it doesn't make any difference to them. Show them," said Lucy Brenton, a Libertarian and former candidate for a U.S. Senate seat.
She was among about 45 advocates who rallied outside of Gov. Eric Holcomb's residence as part of an annual 4/20 campaign, named for a date considered a holiday for marijuana supporters.
Amid a steady drizzle, rally attendees held signs, one reading "Marijuana The Cure-All", and bumper stickers reading "Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol."
Brenton suggested civil disobedience acts could include tossing seeds of plants, such as echinacea, known as a cold remedy, instead of marijuana seeds on legislators' yards. "I recommend people do some research and find that plants that fix carbon the best," she said.
Saturday was the second 4/20 observance by the Indiana chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws outside the governor's mansion at 46th and Meridian streets. They cited a poll showing 73 percent of Hoosiers support reform.
"This is an effort to try to get the governor to see some of the potential benefits and hear some first-hand testimony from people who have been affected positively by cannabis," said Will Henry, an Indiana NORMAL board member.
Last October, a legislative study committee hit an impasse over regulating medical marijuana and which health conditions would qualify for its use. The panel couldn't muster the required 10 votes to push legalization forward.
"The interim study commission was nothing more than a sham," said Neal Smith, executive director of Indiana NORMAL. "The final result was, as this and the last General Assemblies have been, not accomplishing much in any area."
Saturday's protest came with just a few days left in the Indiana General Assembly session, where there is little chance of amending bills to include marijuana law reforms.
This session, nine bills were introduced that would have eased marijuana laws or allowed the use of medical marijuana. One bill would have established a medical marijuana program for the cultivation and dispensing for people with a valid state permit. None of the nine were heard in committee meetings.
Instead, the focus has been on hemp, biologically different than marijuana and limited to a 0.3 percent concentration of THC, the cannabis compound that creates a marijuana high. Senate Bill 516, which is still in conference committee, passed the chambers virtually unscathed. The bill sets up a licensing process for hemp and hemp seed production.
The roots of 4/20 have long been hazy, but general attribution goes to San Rafael High School students in California, known as the Waldos, who smoked marijuana after classes at 4:20 p.m. in the fall of 1971. A flier distributed at a Grateful Dead concert made 4/20 an official weed holiday.
In February, reporters asked Holcomb why Indiana is holding off from legalizing medical marijuana when other states have done so.
He answered, "Because we're following the law and I'm proud of that fact. And we operate here being well-informed. This would require medical research and science to give us the true evidence on both the medicinal value and efficacy of recreational use. That's not here yet."
In response to a direct follow-up question, the governor acknowledged he smoked marijuana in college.
In encouraging participation in Saturday's rally, NORMAL posted a notice reading in part:
"After Governor Holcomb pressured committee chairs to kill all cannabis bills in this year's General Assembly, they took his hint and killed every single one of the cannabis bills, not even giving a single cannabis bill a committee hearing!
"To top it all off, Governor Holcomb actually recently admitted he used to smoke cannabis in college! That's right! Our Governor is throwing Hoosiers in prison for doing the very same thing he admitted he used to do himself!
"Knowing that Governor Holcomb is the main reason Indiana didn't get medical cannabis this year, we will all rally on Saturday April 20 at the Governor's mansion! Where the Governor will be trying to relax, we will be outside of his window instead."
To contact CNHI Statehouse Reporter Scott L. Miley call (317) 602-3650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.