Indiana Lawmakers Set to Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
Indiana lawmakers are currently working to introduce legislation by early next year that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. If this bill passes, possession of up to three ounces (85 grams) of marijuana could be charged as a minor infraction rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
Democratic state Senator Karen Tallin, who plans to reintroduce the bill, says that there was absolutely no chance of a bill like this being embraced several years ago, but now people are starting to relax a little bit. "Two or three years ago when I started talking about that it was, 'You're crazy,'" she said. "Now, it's like: 'I'm all right with that.' I've gotten that from a lot of people. 'I wouldn't put my name on it but I'll support you.'"
Currently, a first time offender caught with just under an ounce (30 grams) of marijuana can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor that carries a jail term of up to one year. Second time possession offenders can receive a Class D felony, which comes with a prison term of up to three years.
Advocates for this bill say that by decriminalizing marijuana in Indiana the state can put a leash on prison overcrowding and keep kids from ending up with criminal records. "It's about saving the state money and it's about helping kids," said Tallian.
Critics of the bill say that by not hammering down stiff penalties for marijuana possession, we are sending a message to kids that doing drugs is acceptable. However, both the opposition and supporters agree that it will be a long time before Indiana legalizes marijuana like Colorado and Washington.