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Marijuana Decriminalization Gets Conservative Support In Indiana

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brent steele indiana marijuanaIndiana Republican Senator Brent Steele Wants To Reform Personal Marijuana Possession Laws

By Dan Riffle, Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana reform is a hot topic of conversation in state legislatures around the country and not just in traditionally liberal states like California and Rhode Island. In fact, bills to make marijuana possession punishable by a fine only, rather than jail time, were introduced this year in conservative bastions like Arizona and Tennessee, and it’s a too-well-kept secret that such laws have been on the books since the ’70s in Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, and several other less-than-liberal states.

You can now add Indiana to the list of states where the conversation has gone mainstream. Last week, influential Republican state Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) announced he’d be introducing legislation to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana an “infraction,” punishable by fine, rather than a criminal misdemeanor.

“We have to ask ourselves as a society, do we really want to be locking people up for having a couple of joints in their pocket,” Steele told local media. “Is that how we want to be spending our criminal justice resources?” Steele also pointed out that several other states have already embraced similar policies, noting that “society didn’t melt down, and we didn’t turn into a drug-crazed culture as a result of it.”

Similar legislation has been introduced before by state Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage), but without the support of Republicans, who hold a majority in both chambers, it never got off the ground. Speculation is that Steele’s support could change that. Steele, who is closely allied with Indiana prosecutors and is described by Indiana political veterans as a “rock-ribbed law-and-order guy,” chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters where the bill would likely be assigned.

Published with special permission from the Marijuana Policy Project

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Johnny Green

8 Comments

  1. If anyone wants to actually legalize marijuana then you will have to go into the legislation and make your voice heard, get on councils. ILYAC is a great example

  2. If people do not work together to see these things changed…it never will change.Typical description of a “pothead”…lazy,dope smokin’,ignorant,general all around “nere do well”…step up and show these people we are contributing members of society!

  3. It is well past time for decriminalization to be introduced.Marijuana was the most prescribed pain medication in the U.S….until aspirin was invented.Over 1000 people a year die from the use of aspirin O.D.,dangerous for children to use under age of 16…yet you can buy it across the counter in any drug store or supermarket.The benefits of marijuana usage far out-way the negative aspects of smoking.Study the side effects of the prescription drugs most people are using.Find out how many people are in jail for small amounts of marijuana.Is our society really being well served by our current laws?How many billions of dollars go outside our economy,untaxed,unregulated to lawless cartels who kill people indiscriminately.Prescription drug abuse amongst our young people is rampant.I been told about ‘scrip meds being placed on a students desk in high school.Look at all the laws in place to oversee prescription drugs.There will always be those who abuse..always…face facts folks…smoking a little MJ has never recorded 1 death to my knowledge.Unless it was a allergic reaction or something.Get smart people…put the power back in our hands and reduce our prison populations…put that law enforcement money and time to better use.

  4. i live in a rural area west of indianapolis were you can spot a democrat a mile away. i believe that if this is passed that medical marijuana will be next. $148,000,000 is spent on marijuana busts in indiana every year, if we legalized it we would have more money to ehh idk maybe bust some meth labs or some crackheads. this is a far cry from legalization but i totally believe that with time it will happen in Indiana. in the 40’s industrial hemp was grown throughout the state of indiana, especially in my area, industiral hemp contains 0.5-2% thc and wont be able to get you high. I believe that medical marijuana will be legalized in indiana because of all the RX drug abuse, and i am a 16 year old junior in high school living with severe anxiety, my anxiety is so severe that if there are more than 2 or 3 people in a room talking ill have a breakdown, if music is playing too loud ill get a severe headache and have to leave. when i was diagnosed with anxiety at 14 they gave me xanax and i thought i was hot shit, until i start doubling and tripling my RX and i was addicted bad, one day i was out of xanax and i was withdrawing and sweating profously, having muscle contractions so bad i couldnt move, but i got through it. Now i self medicate myself with marijuana, i am a recreational smoker, but im not one of those kids that smoke 7 grams a day, i smoke 2 grams of high mids or 1 gram of chronic, almost everyday, but if i dont need to medicate i dont. it calms me down so i can perform in school better, school used to be terrible before i found out that smoking makes my anxiety go away, i used to have breakdowns in class if everyone was talking over each other, id tell people to shut the fuck up, hit a couple kids with books, but now im the most mellow kid at my school. i beleive indiana can join the union as the 18th state again, the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana

  5. I have to say that the northern part of our state is finally being heard in Indianapolis. The northern part of the state is a lot more liberal than the southern part, but for years the southern Indiana conservatives rule the roost. Things are starting to change here in the Hoosier state.

  6. Gregoire Twonig on

    Decriminalization, while a positive step, often does not mean much and here’s why: Marijuana possession fines may still carry, by statute, automatic suspensions of driving/professional licenses; an offense is still searchable on a public background check for employers; the “offender” is still stigmatized with a “drug offense” which could disqualify one for education loans or housing; and prosecutors still charge an “offender” with a misdemeanor anyway for the crimes that are naturally incidental to the marijuana possession (e.g. Paraphernalia possession, such as a small pipe, is usually not decriminalized, and still treated as a misdemeanor).

    In the end, decriminalization is a great step, but it may still have just as detrimental of consequence(s) as a misdemeanor!

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