Well, it’s over.
The Indiana Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve Sunday carryout liquor sales on Thursday. Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to sign the bill into law next week, ending a pointless ban that’s hung around the state since William Henry Harrison was running things.
You should be able to buy Lord’s Day booze by March 4.
It’s the latest puritanical restriction to fall in Indiana. Hell, bingo used to be against the law – a decision that sparked a riot.
In 1945, thousands of bingo-hungry protesters flooded the Evansville streets to demand its legalization. Things soured in a hurry. The frothing horde heckled police and flipped over squad cars. One man reportedly punctured one of the cruisers’ gas tanks and hurled a cigarette toward the pool of leaking fuel. An officer stamped it out, mere seconds before the city devolved into a Bruce Willis movie.
Bingo’s legal now, of course. Likewise land-based gambling and lottery tickets. That leaves one contentious vice lingering on the wrong side of the law: marijuana.
Judging from how long it took us to pass Sunday sales, marijuana should be legal in Indiana around the year 2243.
But we did make inroads during the 2018 session. For the first time ever, the House voted to study the possibility of maybe considering legalizing medical marijuana in the distant future. For Indiana, that counts as wild progress.
The House also passed a bill that legalized CBD oil and allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp.
All this hints at a previously unthinkable willingness to legalize weed, at least for medical purposes. Recreational marijuana, meanwhile, remains a far-off dream – like cold fusion or low Vectren bills.
As usual, our neighbors are ahead of us. By this time next year, recreational weed could be legal in Illinois. And several marijuana bills are churning through the Kentucky legislature, including a long-shot effort to decriminalize recreational pot.
Dueling Senate and House bills have better chances. In a rare moment of sanity, even Gov. Matt Bevin has said he supports a move toward medical marijuana in Kentucky.
For some people, all this proves that society is crumbling and washing into the sea. Those of you nice enough to send emails or write letters have argued that Sunday alcohol sales will cause drunk-driving to spike.
There’s no evidence of that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps track of drunk-driving prevalence in each state. The states with the lowest rates all allow Sunday alcohol sales. Utah – home of the most bizarre liquor laws in the nation – bans hard alcohol on Sundays, but still allows folks to buy beer.
As far as marijuana, the attitudes can get downright apocalyptic. The federal government still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic – more dangerous than fentanyl, oxycodone and cocaine.
That’s ludicrous, of course. It’s opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone, not pot, that are eviscerating lives all across Indiana. Marijuana, on the other hand, can treat everything from chronic pain to post-traumatic stress disorder.
But it’s this kind of delusional thinking that will have to be defeated before the state takes any meaningful step toward marijuana legalization.
Public attitudes will change, but it may take a while. It certainly did for bingo.
Forty-three years after police fought back that angry crowd to keep bingo illegal, a man barged into a Holy Spirit Catholic church game and screeched that the players were “doomed to hell.” Even though the game was still technically illegal, it was the screeching man, not the players, who got sent to jail.
Progress is inevitable. Just like bingo, land-based gambling and Sunday alcohol sales before it, marijuana will be legal in Indiana someday.
That is, if the state still exists in 2243.