INDIANAPOLIS — Jeff Staker has never backed down from a fight.
For the past several years, the U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm has been on the front lines of the fight to legalize marijuana for medical use in Indiana.
“Marines are always sent in there to get the job done when punches have to be thrown,” the 56-year-old grandfather said. “I want to help veterans and patients and citizens have this medicine as a beneficial alternative to whatever ailments they may have.”
For Staker, that was was chronic back pain from bulging discs due to his military service. For years, he took oxycontin, but the dosage kept increasing to control his pain.
“I was running the risk of accidently overdosing,” Staker said, explaining he eventually turned to a California doctor who legally prescribed cannabis to treat his pain.
That’s when he started Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis.
“Chronic pain is one of the obvious things our veterans are turning to, besides veterans who are suffering from PTSD and other ailments that they’re finding benefits from cannabis,” Staker said.
Democrats in Indiana and some Republicans have tried to legalize marijuana over the years but have never succeeded.
Governor Eric Holcomb has come out against legalizing it for recreational use and said more research needs to be done before considering legalizing it for medicinal use.
Indiana does allow for the sale of CBD products and lets farmers grow and process hemp commercially.
“I think we’re taking steps in the right direction,” Staker added.
Right now, though, Indiana remains one of 14 states without medical cannabis laws. Staker hopes that can change in the next legislative session.
“I’m tired of hearing Indiana’s going to be the last one," said Staker. "Hopefully that won’t be the case. 'Til the battle’s over, we’ll be in the fight until the end."
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