Indiana introduced a new bill that would replace criminal penalties and prison time for possession of small amounts of marijuana with citations and fines.
Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) introduced S.B. 580, a bill which would remove the threat of jail time and harsh criminal penalties for those found with small quantities of pot. Instead, the bill calls for a civil situation and a fine similar to a parking ticket.
As Indiana law stands now, anyone found with approximately one ounce or less of marijuana can face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Anyone with more than that could face a felony charge with up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to Dan Riffle, the deputy director of government relations for the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, says adults with small amounts of pot should not be subject to the same punishments for those charged with domestic violence.
A survey conducted in December indicated that a majority of Indiana voters already support removing criminal penalties. The WISH-TV/Ball State University Hoosier Survey found that just over half of those polled favored decriminalizing it, and 41 percent were opposed.
“It’s imperative that Sen. Young and his committee members honor the majority of Indiana voters who support this bill and give it a fair hearing,” said Riffle.
If Indiana approves the bill it would join the ranks of 15 other states that have already removed criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.