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Impact is real for people having marijuana cases dismissed in Marion County

Prosecutors have dismissed 148 pending cases
Posted at 4:21 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 18:13:02-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In a groundbreaking decision, the Marion County Prosecutor's Office said it will not longer prosecute simple marijuana cases, meaning anyone caught with one ounce or less of the drug.

So far this week, prosecutors have dismissed 148 pending cases. A man named Derrick was involved in one of those cases.

Derrek was ecstatic when his attorney called and told him his case was being dismissed. He was worried how this would affect his career and any other job in the future.

"I kind of didn't believe it at first," he said. "I'm 30 years old, single, I have a great job, benefits, I travel for work."

But a simple mistake — accidentally leaving marijuana in his backpack while at the airport — landed him in trouble with the law.

"The metal detectors actually detected that jar," he said.

While regretful of his decision, he feels he's not a criminal and is happy this will no longer be on his record.

"I feel like there's many individuals like myself who are very driven, career focused, and don't make bad decisions very often," Derrek said.

Gemma and Karimi Law represents Derrek and dozens of others with similar cases. They said the folks who are caught with small amounts of marijuana are typically younger, in their 20s, college students. And being charged with this crime could impact their student loans and even housing.

"One small incident turns into this major burden for everyone," Gemma and Karimi said. "And yes it's against the law, however resources are limited, they really are. Detectives not doing things because they can't and they don't have the help. They don't have the money. And don't forget when marijuana is found, it has to be sent to a lab, it has to be tested, it has to be proven to be marijuana. All for a B misdemeanor that usually gets a diversion or dismissed anyway."

They said this new move will not only lighten the work load for the prosecutor's office to focus on more violent crimes, but this will impact real lives.

"I was surprised to hear the prosecutor make that announcement. I thought it to be a bold move, our unique step toward a solution of a real problem," they said.

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