Indiana bill seeks to decriminalize pot

Another ‘pot shot’ is being taken to try to decriminalize marijuana in Indiana.

If passed, it would no longer be a crime to possess less than two ounces of the drug.

“We’re categorizing people with misdemeanors or felonies for something that, in the next state, wouldn’t even be illegal,” said the bill’s author, Ind. Sen. Karen Tallian, (D) Portage.

While Washington State and Colorado have legalized marijuana, the drug would still be illegal in Indiana. “Basically, what it does is takes possession of small amounts of marijuana from a misdemeanor or a felony, down to an infraction,” said Sen. Tallian.

Those who violate an infraction receive a ticket, as is common for traffic offenses. A Class C infraction is punishable by a fine up to $500.

This week the bill was introduced in the Indiana Senate and assigned to the Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law.

Right now in Indiana, getting caught with under 30 grams of marijuana (about an ounce) is a Class A misdemeanor, which could bring up to a year in jail. Anything over one ounce is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to three years in prison.

“Lots of people believe that we are filling up the department of correction with individuals who have smoked one marijuana cigarette, that’s not true,” said Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill. “In fact, one marijuana cigarette, possession of one marijuana cigarette would be a Cass A Misdemeanor, we don’t send anybody to the department of correction for a Class A Misdemeanor. Do we really want to send the message to our children that it’s OK to use a mind altering substance with impunity,” asked Hill. “Is that the message we want out there? Instead of saying let’s draw the line in the sand on meth or crack, let’s draw the line in the sand on marijuana, it’s the gateway, it’s where it starts, and if somebody wants to be in a state that legalizes marijuana I would happily suggest that they move to Colorado.”

A statewide poll taken in 2012 showed that 53 percent of respondents support the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana.

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