By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. McDermott imbibes

I've been writing politics for more than 40 years and I've never had a U.S. Senate candidate call me up and tell me he's smoked marijuana. But that's what happened this morning when Democrat Thomas McDermott Jr., said he smoked marijuana at a Grateful Dead Concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago this past summer. Illinois is one of 18 states that has legalized recreational use while another 13 had decriminalized cannabis. It's still illegal in any form in Indiana.

On his Left Of Center podcast, Mayor McDermott said, "We were in Chicago. I went to a Grateful Dead show at Wrigley. It was a weird sensation for me to be by the Chicago Cubs dugout and everyone is smoking weed." Asked by host Kevin Smith if he partook, McDermott said, "Yeah, I did. I was at a Grateful Dead show. I was in Chicago where it's legal. I was there both nights. I had a ride there and from. I was in a state where it's legal. I did. What's the big deal? If it's somewhere where it's legal, why not? It's the same thing as alcohol. I approach it the same way."

A generation ago, Bill Clinton said he smoked marijuana, but didn't inhale. Evan Bayh said he did ... once. But in recent years a parade of conservatives ranging from Justice Clarence Thomas to Sarah Palin have urged cannabis reform. McDermott, who is seeking to challenge U.S. Sen. Todd Young, added, "If I'm elected to the U.S. Senate, I'm going to vote to decriminalize. I'm going to vote to legalize." McDermott asked, "Is it a big deal that I admitted to smoking marijuana? It was a perfect situation." We'll find out.

2. GOP becoming the anti-mandate party

Indiana has a COVID vaccination rate of just 50%, with 3.36 million Hoosiers fully vaccinated. So the latest twist in this pandemic is the ruling party - Indiana Republicans - lining up against the federal COVID testing mandate, coming after more than 16,000 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, the most lethal public health sequence in state history. “I direct the Indiana Department of Labor to work with the attorney general on a lawsuit challenging the federal government regarding the OSHA ETS. This is an overreach of the government’s role in serving and protecting Hoosiers," said Gov. Eric Holcomb. "While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce.” Attorney General Todd Rokita: “My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are reviewing all legal action on how to stand against these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration.” 

3. FWPD's two social workers

Mayor Tom Henry and Fort Wayne Police Department Captain Kevin Hunter highlighted the addition of two social workers to the FWPD. Launched in August through a grant of $245,000 per year for three years that involved the federal government’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, and The Lutheran Foundation, the social workers were able to be hired and have the expertise and skill sets to assist with local problematic substance abuse disorder cases. The FWPD social workers are also involved with the Hope and Recovery Team (HART) program, which is a quick response team of FWPD officers and a peer recovery coach who work to connect people who have experienced a non-fatal overdose to treatment and recovery services. This year, there have been 975 non-fatal overdoses in Fort Wayne through September, with 95 fatal overdoses through October 13 and more than 20 deaths pending toxicology results.

4. Bosma becomes a lobbyist

IBJ: Brian Bosma, the former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, is now a registered lobbyist in Indiana, but said he isn’t planning to spend much time hanging out in the halls of the Statehouse. Bosma said he will be active in his role as a senior consultant and partner for Brownsburg-based 1816 Public Affairs Group LLC in the coming 2022 legislative session, but his focus will be more on helping clients navigate the legislative waters.

5. IU's Whitten sworn in

New Indiana University President Pamela Whitten was sworn in on Thursday: “We need to create experiences both inside and outside the classroom that help you learn to think analytically, and solve problems in ways that set you apart from other college graduates. Indiana University’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. We must all work together in the coming years to ensure that our campus communities are places where differences of all kinds are respected, embraced, and protected.”

Have a great weekend, folks, and thanks for reading. It's The Atomic!