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Indiana lawmakers to study cannabis again, though GOP leaders still downplay legalization

For the second year in a row, Indiana lawmakers will examine cannabis legalization during their study committee period. But Republican leaders are still downplaying the possibility of actual legalization.

Indiana lawmakers meet in study committees between legislative sessions, as a way to help prepare for future legislation.

Lawmakers on the public health study committee spent hours last year hearing testimony from both supporters and opponents of cannabis legalization.

This year, the Commerce and Economic Development Study Committee will consider the issue. House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said the focus will be on employment issues and teen use.

“You’re starting to see real data come out across states that have legalized that I think is important to analyze and understand,” Huston said.

Still, when asked whether the study committee is a step towards legalization, Republican leaders said they’re just gathering information.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said while the GOP is focused on the negatives of cannabis use, he's focused on the benefits.

“I think cannabis is – it’s inevitable,” Taylor said.

The committee will meet in the coming months.

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Topics unveiled Tuesday for this year’s study committees also include pressing issues in technology, child care and education.

That will include examining challenges and threats posed by artificial intelligence. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said, in a perfect world, AI would best be handled by the federal legislation.

“Are there things that the state of Indiana can do with that? There might be," Bray said. "We just need to continue to familiarize ourselves with that technology so that we can kinda know how to handle it.”

Lawmakers will also study the “increasing costs” of higher education. Huston said the legislature wants to work with colleges and universities to reduce costs.

“So, there are areas, programs, things that they’re doing today that maybe we can help them streamline and how we can be partners in reducing costs,” Huston said.

The legislature will also study how to increase options for child care locations, reduce traffic fatalities and better protect consumer data.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith