Statehouse proposal could change Marion County prosecutor's marijuana policy

Posted at 10:05 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 22:05:51-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal in the Indiana legislature could end a marijuana policy by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

Last year, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced his office would no longer prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession charges of less than one ounce. He said there was little to no connection between violent crime in the county and those types of crimes. Mears also said the possession charges have had a disproportionate impact on people of color.

Senate Bill 436, authored by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, would allow for the Indiana Attorney General to prosecute certain crimes, “If the prosecuting attorney refuses as a matter of policy to prosecute those crimes.”

Thursday, Senate Democrats, including Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, criticized the bill.

“The Marion County prosecutor’s decision to no longer prosecute small marijuana possession offenses in Indianapolis was a great step forward, and we need to lean into that, instead of reversing course,” Taylor said.

In a statement, Mears said the following about the proposal.

“The real issue is marijuana and the disproportionate impact our current marijuana policies have on people of color. This is a thinly veiled effort to avoid that discussion," Mears said.

SB 436 has a hearing scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m.