Indiana Fire Fighter and Marine Veteran Forms Cannabis Lobby Group
Jeff Staker is a former marine and firefighter at Grissom Air Reserve Base, where he previously worked as a law enforcement officer. Has started a lobbying group called Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis. His hope is to rally local military supporters to pressure their representatives for access to medicinal cannabis.
Last month they were granted non profit status by the Indiana Office of the Secretary of State and he hopes to use the group as a vehicle to lobby state law makers to allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis. It also helped gain support from at least one member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in order to build a coalition of veterans willing to address the issue of medicinal cannabis legalization.
Jeff also has his own personal reasons for wanting medical cannabis to be legalized in Indiana. He suffers from chronic pain from his military duties and was prescribed oxycodone by the VA, but after switching to cannabis for pain management, has been drug free for over five years.
Congress passed a law allowing VA doctors to recommend cannabis, if the state has medical marijuana laws and this recognition. That formal support, coupled with the dramatic statistics of opiate deaths per year, is all the ammo Jeff needs to bring the fight to the statehouse.
Although Jeff may be new to the fight for the right to choose, the idea that Indiana should legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes has been brought up multiple times in the past. In fact Rep. Bill Friend proposed a bill that would make it legal to possess cannabis oil for epilepsy treatment which passed the house but was foiled in the senate.
Rep. Sue Errington has proposed legalizing cannabis the past three years only to have all three bills never receive a single vote. With her legislative shortcomings she is pleased to see a veteran take up the cause of cannabis legalization.
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“I think having a group in Indiana will help raise awareness of the things that veterans suffer from and that they’re looking for alternative ways to get relief,” Errington said. “You always hope things will be different when you introduce a bill, but with the additional support from veterans, I think it gives the issue more traction. Legislatures listen to veterans.”