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Were seeds planted to corner a future legalized marijuana market?

In 2013, then-Indiana Senate Judiciary Chairman Brent Steele drafted legislation that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state. The language of the bill would have required the selection of a single security contractor to license dispensaries, distributors and manufacturers.

The requirements for the contractor were narrowly written. Steele’s peers suspected that the wording seemed tailored to one particular company.

Lafayette-based Mullhaupt’s Inc. seemed to fit “the bill.”

Steele was one of the few Republicans in the General Assembly to show interest in easing marijuana restrictions. He allowed debate on a bill that would have created a study on legalization and considered easing the criminal penalties for possession of small amounts.

Before retiring, Steele also supported Indiana’s vaping law that also required a certain type of security firm that had to meet specific and unique requirements. According to an industry professional, only one company would meet those specifications.

Mulhaupt’s Inc.

That successful e-liquid legislation was considered by supporters to be the possible framework for possible legalization of marijuana. Ohio, New York and Minnesota have similar laws that legalize marijuana, allowing it to be only inhaled in vapor form.

While the security firm’s requirements in Steele’s law are not exactly the same as the vaping legislation word-for-word, Mulhaupt's combination of work as a locksmith, security firm and overhead door company again made the company uniquely qualified while eliminating almost any other competitor.

Simply stated, the legislation would have put Mulhaupt in the coveted position of being the defacto gatekeeper of a potentially lucrative, multi-billion dollar industry: legalized marijuana.

After leaving politics, Steele was named the executive director of the newly formed Vapor Association of America. Among their list of clients includes Mulhaupt, Inc.

Both Steele and Mulhaupt deny any connection.

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