INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — An Indiana lawmaker has done something that would have gotten him arrested had he done it in Indiana. But Republican State Rep. Jim Lucas was in Colorado. What he did was legal there and he's not afraid to talk about it.
On the contrary, the three-term representative from Seymour has become a leading voice for legalizing medical marijuana in Indiana.
In fact, last fall, Eyewitness News followed him to Illinois where he toured a grow center and dispensary to see how it works there. Medical marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2015.
Last week, he spent five days doing the same in Colorado visiting Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. He did so on his own dime.
Colorado is a state where cannabis is legal for both medical and "recreational" use, so when asked, "Did you try it?" Lucas said, "Sure, I enjoyed the freedom Colorado offers to responsible adults and it was amazing."
Lucas didn't flinch. He said he visited several grow centers and dispensaries, including those for recreational users, which have become ubiquitous in Colorado.
"You have to be 21 or older and they card everyone," Lucas said. "They're very strict and that's nice to see the level of control they have."
As for what he tried? He said, "Cookies, edibles, smokes, vape sticks."
As a state lawmaker was he worried about any repercussions from sharing his experience? Lucas responded, "You know what? We're at that point where someone has to take the lead on this. When you see that 60 percent of states have some form of medical cannabis, what they've done is decriminalize a plant that brings countless benefits to countless people."
Marijuana for medical use is now legal in 30 states. (Ten allow recreational use.)
"It's not the wonder drug for everyone, but I think it's unconscionable that we do not have this in our tool box to let doctors and patients choose what's best for them," he said.
Last session, Lucas was among a handful of lawmakers who introduced bills calling for medical marijuana. Those bills got a lot of people talking and prompted several rallies but never went anywhere.
Lucas said if he's re-elected in November, he's committed to trying again and pushing for decriminalization as well.
He said of his trip to Colorado, "it removed all doubt in my mind that this is the right thing to do for Indiana," saying it would "save lives."
As a small business owner, Lucas didn't have to worry about a drug test upon his return home.
Asked if he brought anything back, he said, "No, that would be illegal and again, I wanted to do this as professionally as possible and I want to be honest with myself and everyone else, but until we can get it brought here to Indiana we have to obey Indiana laws."
Lucas said while there's "always a concern" about sharing details of a trip like his, "I didn't get into politics to become a career politician...I get out there and I'm not afraid to take risks."
He's also knows that views on the issue have changed.
"We're now seeing the benefits of other states doing it," he said. "it's time for Indiana to get out of the dark issues and move forward on this issue."