No more arrests? Proposal would decriminalize certain marijuana cases

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Some Hoosier lawmakers are pushing to decriminalize simple marijuana possession in Indiana.

State Senate Democrats characterized the state as “well behind the times” when it comes to marijuana laws.

Senate Bill 114 would reduce the penalty for the possession of less than of less than one ounce of marijuana to an infraction for the first offense. It is authored by State Sen. Karen Tallian.

A second proposal, Senate Bill 86 from State Sen. Greg Taylor, would allow the possession of less than two ounces of marijuana as long as the individual has an authorized prescription for medical marijuana or has been certified by a physician for treatment with marijuana.

During a news conference Thursday, the lawmakers said there were more than 22,000 arrests annually in 2018 and 2019 for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“No more jail time. No more criminal records,” Tallian said. “And you know what? This is the will of the people of Indiana.”

Tallian cited a 2019 poll from Ball State University that said 78% of Hoosiers support such a measure.

The proposals would still make it illegal to distribute, grow and sell marijuana in Indiana.

Last year, the Marion County’s Prosecutor’s Office said it would no longer prosecute simple possession of marijuana cases.

“This was absolutely a step in the right direction, and the rest of the state of Indiana should follow,” Taylor said.

Both state senators voiced opposition to Senate Bill 436, which would give the Indiana Attorney General the power to prosecute marijuana cases in counties where prosecutors have chosen not to pursue them.

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