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Indiana May Consider Decriminalization in Next Session

PHOTO Miranda Nelson

Politics

Indiana May Consider Decriminalization in Next Session

Marijuana possession is the second-leading cause of arrest in Indiana.

Indiana is going to face a problem starting at the beginning of next year: It is about to be partly surrounded by states where marijuana is legal. Michigan is set to launch its recreational pot market next month, while Illinois will open one as of January. This means Hoosiers will be traveling across state lines for legal weed and doing their best to bring some home for later. State officials are already talking about the steps they might take to prevent an abundance of interstate drug trafficking from wreaking havoc. The powers-that-be want to take a tough on drugs approach, driving every law enforcement agency they have over the edge in pursuit of a pot-free Indiana.

Yet, high-ranking Democratic lawmakers have a better idea. They want to eliminate the criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession and give both the cops and the average pot-smoking citizen a break.

Although the higher-ups have essentially put the kibosh on the idea of Indiana going legal anytime soon, some state legislators are hoping they can get a decriminalization bill through the legislative process in the next session. The goal, at least at its most basic level, is to prevent people from going to jail for merely having a plant that well over half the nation has legalized for medicinal and recreational purposes. They want this offense treated a little less like a serious crime. Therefore, lawmakers are calling for pot possession to be treated as a minor infraction.

This would give local and state police the authority to write a ticket for some marijuana offenses and be on their way.

“For simple possession of minor amounts of marijuana you will not go to jail,” Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane told the NW Times. “You will still be held accountable within the judicial system, but it will become an infraction and not a misdemeanor as it currently is.”

Marijuana possession is the second-leading cause of arrest in Indiana. The situation is only going to get worse in the coming months with so many Hoosiers having access to legal weed within driving distance. Somewhere around 15 of the state’s 92 counties will be in close proximity to legal markets.

Lawmakers are concerned that the state is going to spend an exuberant amount of tax dollars busting and prosecuting droves of marijuana users. This will lead to more overcrowding in the jails, they say, which is a problem the state could do without. Right now, it is nothing for a low level, non-violent marijuana offender to be given up to 18 months in jail for their indiscretions. Fortunately, some of the state’s prosecutors, like Marion County’s Ryan Mears, are doing their best to handle these cases in a manner that doesn’t involve jail time. If you ask Mears, there are bigger fish to fry.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 12 years,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “I have the experience of seeing what causes violent crime. And over the course of 12 years, I can tell you, small amounts of marijuana is not our problem.”

But it’s going to take a change in the law to get all of these hatchet men and women to follow suit.

And that’s easier said than done.

The Republican-dominated legislature is going to need some convincing before this type of proposal even gets its consideration. It’s no secret that these goons have done everything in their power over the past several years to prevent any pot-related measure from getting a fair shake. It’s not just them, but Gov. Eric Holcomb, a man who admits to smoking weed himself back in his bro days, isn’t at all keen on bringing Indiana into the cannabis universe. It’s the same old objections with this guy: Marijuana is a gateway drug that will spin little Hoosiers into full-grown drug fiends.

For the record, the same federal government that continues to uphold a prohibition standard admits that weed isn’t necessarily a gateway to harder drugs. It’s actually “alcohol and nicotine” that are “more likely to inspire people to use harder substances,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nevertheless, Holcomb wants to wait until the federal government changes the law on its end to move in the direction of a taxed and regulated pot market. And even then, the law would probably only allow medicinal use. Still, it will be difficult for lawmakers to deny the problems concerning interstate drug trafficking, which could make them more open to the idea of decriminalization.

There are no guarantees, however, that the Republicans will listen to common sense. But if they open their ears even if only for a second, Lanane has a message for them: “Stop clogging up our jails, stop clogging up our judicial system by putting people in jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

TELL US, do you live in a place that still criminalizes minor marijuana possession?

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Kristyn Fisher

    December 3, 2019 at 11:07 am

    If it’s decriminalized, it will free the jail cells for those that actually need it and give those people a chance to get jobs to support their fanilies instead of having bogis charges on their record.
    I live in Indiana, and it’s ridiculous that a sex offender gets less time than a sex offender.

  2. Angela Doornbos

    December 2, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Facing 6 mo. in jail, for a Misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana, here in Indiana. I don’t smoke to party, I smoke for Anxiety, PTSD and insomnia. It’s bullshit that they try to make you an addict by prescribing narcotics, but it’s iillegal to smoke Cannabis!
    #BIGPHARMRULESINDIANA

  3. Quint Funches

    December 1, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Well I don’t see what’s the problem they have meth clinics so why we can’t smoke and be pain free

  4. Heidi Jo Miller

    November 29, 2019 at 5:18 am

    I am currently serving a term of 1 year reporting, and testing, for a B misdemeanor of marijuana I used it medicinally. It was less than 20 dollars worth, I had the bowl to smoke it with and blunt wraps. So far my probation is 40/ month for a year..and court costs and public defender costs ( separately from my probation costs) of about 440.00 by February 28,2020.
    All For Less Than 20 Bucks Worth Of Marijuana????? I never dealt it,never sold it at all,but because my neibors traffic was being watched,i was too..or so i was told.
    They raided my apartment with SWAT all males on the SWAT ( i am fully disabled and in bed obeying doctors orders,-due to my PTSD, Bipolar 2, D.I.D. and seizures I have been diagnosed with having– i was in my nightgown, i was zip tied and handcuffed while they destroyed my apartment looking for what my neighbor was doing. ( who was not there and had managed to travel out of town the night before) I have never gotten an apology from the NAPPANEE Police Department, Nappanee,Indiana for what they did to me. They even laughed at me and said ” “oh we know who you are”when I told them I was fully disabled…the system is flawed, oh and the person that the warrant was for hasn’t been touched yet, although their name had crossed the lips to me a few times by my public defender and probation officer..this was all this 2019 year. I now am in active weekly therapy classes and Seeking Safety classes as well..it triggerd alot of my disorders and I barely speak to anyone physically outside of my family.

  5. Kevin Lee Johnson

    November 28, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Yes, Indiana to be exact. It wouldn’t surprise me if they block all bills from getting through. Until my state gets rid of the dumbass in the goveoners seat we are screwed. One bowl of weed caused me to get a misdemeanor at 18-at 19? FOUR-4 smaller than cigerette size joints labeled me a FELON 4 LIFE! It blocked me from being able to enlist in the Army during peace time and by 911 I had gone back to just drinking.. and getting arrested for 3 -O. W. I. ‘s, yeah my patriotic attitude changed because the judge decided while he was DRUNK on the bench he didn’t like the fact u had missed an appointment because I kept the appointment with the recruiter I had prior to getting arrested at 19 and he said I was making a mochery of his courtroom and changed my misdemeanor to a FELONY.. all because of personal and drunken beliefs my life was ruined 4ever. He resided on bench until he retired.. herd he lost his authority to sentence 17 years later. Judge Smalls and these cannbis laws… THANKS FOR FUCKING ME OUT OF A 29 YER SERVICE CONTRACT AND MAKING ME A KIFETIME MEMBER OF THE CJS! NOT PROUD TO BE MEMBER OF FELONS R’ USSTILL TRIED TO ENLIST AT 29 IN 2010 JUDGE SMALLS BUT WAS TO OLD BY THEN SO KISS MY ASS….Sir!

    • Kevin Lee Johnson

      November 28, 2019 at 11:15 pm

      ***Not u had missed*** I HAD MISSED***>>hate this keyboard<usstill< with
      * (US. I STILL)***

      {Thanks moderator,I apologise for vulgarity and misspelled words,not my disgust with being denied a better life at 19 by a drunk judge though.}

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