An Indiana study committee would be asked to look at medical marijuana under a resolution unanimously passed Wednesday by the House Public Health Committee.
There is increasing science-based evidence that marijuana and its derivatives may have various medically useful applications, according to the resolution by Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne.
The bill needs full approval by the Indiana General Assembly.
The use of medical marijuana is approved in 29 states with California being the first in 1996.
“I’ve had a lot of people say if we do this, we’ll become a California. I disagree, Lehman said.
Lehman cited the process in New Hampshire where a council is to review the program’s success and a patient must be registered and cannot cultivate his or her own marijuana.
House Resolution 2 was praised by former State Rep. Tom Knollman who has Multiple Sclerosis and spoke in favor of the study.
Lehman said he was initially opposed to marijuana use but his views changed after working with Knollman in the House.
“I saw a man sitting next to me that was looking for a solution for the pain that he was in in his fight with MS,” Lehman said. “So I began my own study on these issues and it led me to one conclusion and that is we really don’t know all there is to know about these issues.”
The resolution also asks the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, allowing for a wider range of scientific studies.
Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medical benefits. The Schedule II classification means there is a high potential for abuse but that there are currently accepted medical uses.
A reclassification in order to spur research purposes was backed by the Indiana State Medical Association.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce also supported the resolution although the chamber opposes the use of marijuana for recreational use.
Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, asked whether the resolution would be ineffective if the classification wasn’t changed.
The study committee would also look at the therapeutic value of the chemical components of marijuana and look at the impact on the addiction and mental health treatment system in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Lehman maintained the resolution was not an attempt to derail a bill authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.
Lucas’ House Bill 1106 supports the cultivation and use of medical marijuana by people with serious medical conditions. The program would be enforced by the Indiana State Department of Health.
The bill also prohibits harassment of medical marijuana users by law enforcement officers, among other provisions. The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Health.