By Ken de la Bastide
ANDERSON – With Indiana Democrats looking to rebuild their party and return to relevance in statewide elections, it was interesting to see their announced legislative priorities.
As surrounding states make the sale and possession of marijuana legal in various forms, Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly have announced their intention to introduce legislation to make recreational use of “pot” legal in the state.
The Democrats use as a reason to legalize cannabis the fact that Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky have all moved in that direction. They’re also touting potential revenues from the taxation on the sale of marijuana.
Those are two assertions that mostly conservative Indiana residents are not going to feel inclined to become enthused about in 2022.
Although recent polls have shown a majority of Hoosiers support the legalization of marijuana in some form, particularly for medicinal use, it’s hard to imagine that those two things will happen. Why?
At the top of the list is the fact that the Republican majorities in both the Indiana House and Indiana Senate will likely not give legislation authored by a Democrat to legalize marijuana a hearing in committee.
It has become an accepted fact that for legislation to even be considered by the Indiana General Assembly, a GOP sponsor — or at the least a Republican co-author — is required.
Secondly, do Democrats running for seats in the Legislature or for a statewide office expect voters to flock to the polls and vote for their candidates based solely on the issue of legalization of pot?
In most Indiana counties, including Madison, there are very few arrests made solely on the possession of marijuana.
Charges are filed, but they are usually in conjunction with other criminal charges being filed by the prosecutor’s office.
Many local Democrats, not necessarily elected officeholders in Madison County, believe the party has lost the connection with their base of supporters.
They bemoan the fact that the party is no longer championing the rights of working men and women, those living at or below the poverty line, health care costs and reform of the criminal justice system when it comes to the treatment of the minority population.
For Democrats at both the state and county levels, the 2022 election cycle is critical for the rebuilding of the party organization. If no inroads are made in the Legislature and the statewide offices up for election, it will not bode well for the party in the 2024 presidential election.
With candidates lining up in the Republican Party to run for governor and the U.S. Senate seat in 2024, the Democrats have to wonder who their candidates will be in the future.
The so-called bench is not deep at this point in time, and it’s not likely to get much stronger in the next few months.
This article was made available through Hoosier State Press Association.