Indiana May Consider Decriminalizing Cannabis in the Next Session

The Hoosier state is surrounded by legal weed. What's their next step?

Indiana iStock / SerrNovik

State lawmakers in Indiana are planning to consider cannabis decriminalization in the upcoming session. 

Finally, something that politicians across both sides of the aisle can agree on: it’s time for Indiana to legalize cannabis. 

A poll taken in November of last year found that more than 8 out of 10 Hoosiers were in favor of legalizing either medical or recreational cannabis.

To date, cannabis remains illegal in Indiana; this includes both medical and recreational use, and the state still has no medical marijuana program for patients with qualifying conditions. 

In Indiana, possession of under 30 grams of cannabis could land you in jail for up to a year and cost you up to $5000 in fines. 

With bipartisan support coming from Democratic Senator Karen Tallian and Republican Representative Jim Lucas, it could be a signal that changes are finally in the pipeline. 

This is after the recent announcement by Acting Marion County Prosecutor, Ryan Mears, that his office will be dropping charges against those arrested with under an ounce of cannabis, effectively putting an end to any future prosecution for minor marijuana possession across the city of Indianapolis.   

An ardent supporter of legalization, along with several other of her Democratic colleagues in the Indiana Senate, Sen. Tallian is currently planning several bills to decriminalize cannabis, as well as set up a state compliance commission to regulate production and handle licensing issues. 

According to Sen. Tallian, the first thing that lawmakers need to do is stop arresting people for possession of small amounts of cannabis, saying, “Last week, at the Criminal Corrections Committee, the association told us that, last year, there were 22,000 arrests for marijuana possession. So, let’s start there, let’s get rid of that…I think it could be a time when we decriminalize it.”

Regarding the new compliance commission, added Sen. Tallian, “We have people all over who want to start processing hemp. They want to start making CBD oil. It says you’re supposed to have a license, but there’s nobody in charge of issuing licenses.”

Sen. Tallian retweeted a post by the Indiana Senate Democrats which reads, in part, “The racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession is one of many reasons why we must decriminalize marijuana in Indiana.” Sen. Tallian responded to the Tweet, saying, “Hoosiers have been ready for Indiana to reform it’s backwards marijuana laws for years now. It’s past time to do the right thing. Call and email your state legislators and tell them to support efforts to decriminalize marijuana in 2020!”

In an interview last week, Rep. Lucas expressed his support of decriminalization, promising to file his own bill in the next few months. Said Rep. Lucas, “There are just a whole spectrum of benefits that this brings to people. A better quality life and, not just that, but significantly less side-effects than many of the medications they’re taking now…This is an issue I’ve laid awake at night trying to wrap my head around why we are not at least having the conversation.” 

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