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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ind. Law - "What smells about Indiana's vaping law? Could it be marijuana?"

See this list of earlier ILB posts on Indiana's vaping law, and particularly this Dec. 15, 2016 ILB post quoting an IndyStar story by Tony Cook headed "Former Lawmaker Lands Job with Vaping Group that Benefitted from his Vote."

This Sunday reporter Cook had a new, long Indianapolis Star story that begins:

Long before Indiana’s controversial vaping law drew the attention of the FBI, a powerful Republican committee chairman had a similar piece of legislation drawn up.

Like the vaping law, it included specific requirements that likely would have allowed a single security company — Lafayette-based Mulhaupt’s Inc. — to secure a lucrative role as the gatekeeper for an entire industry.

This earlier legislation, however, didn’t involve the e-liquid used in electronic smoking devices.

It involved marijuana.

Drafted in 2013, the measure would have legalized medical marijuana in Indiana and required the state to select a single security contractor to license dispensaries, distributors and manufacturers. The required qualifications for that security contractor were so narrowly written that an expert in the security industry says it is unlikely that any company other than Mulhaupt’s would have qualified.

But that’s not the only link between the marijuana and vaping measures.

The lawmaker who had the medical marijuana legislation drafted, then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Brent Steele, was later hired as the executive director of the newly formed Vapor Association of Indiana, which represents Mulhaupt’s and the few e-liquid makers it has approved.

Steele and Mulhaupt’s owner Doug Mulhaupt did not return multiple messages from IndyStar for this story.

Steele said in December that his new job is unrelated to his votes in favor of the e-liquid law and that he isn't opposed to lawmakers allowing more competition.

Last summer, Mulhaupt said he didn't know until very recently that his security firm was the only one to qualify as a security provider for the vaping industry and that his company never lobbied for the vaping law.

Steele never filed the marijuana legislation and it was never made public, but now it is raising concerns about a possible link between the e-liquid law and what some believe is a secretive behind-the-scenes effort to legalize marijuana and corner that potentially massive new market.

That is just the beginning of the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 28, 2017 09:31 AM
Posted to Indiana Law