Proposal would end jail time for people who are caught with a small amount of marijuana in Indiana

Posted at 9:07 AM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 15:43:06-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal by Indiana Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, aims to decriminalize simple marijuana possession in the state.

Tallian's proposal, Senate Bill 114, would reduce the penalty for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to an infraction for the first offense.

She cited a 2018 Ball State study that shows 78% of Hoosiers support decriminalization.

"We are well behind the times in the state of Indiana when it comes to cannabis," Tallian said.

READ | Marion County will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession

In 2018 and 2019 there were over 22,000 arrests yearly for possession of small amounts of marijuana, Tallian noted.

Illinois and Michigan have legalized marijuana recreationally, and Ohio has legalized for medicinal marijuana. Ohio decriminalized marijuana in 1975.

"That was 45 years ago,” she said. “And the last time I looked, Ohio does not have a history of reefer madness.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb opposes decriminalization and legalization in Indiana. He has said that since it's still illegal federally, it's not time for the state to make a change yet.

Under the proposal, it would still be illegal to distribute, grow and sell marijuana. Next week is the deadline for bills to get hearings in the Senate, so time is running out for her bill.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated Ohio legalized medicinal marijuana in 1975. It decriminalized marijuana in 1975.