Last Update: January 30, 2014

Sen. Tallian introduces bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

The state’s legislature began its 2014 session on January 7, and state Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage), long a champion of improving marijuana laws in the Hoosier State, wasted no time in introducing sensible legislation. SB 314 would reclassify possession of less than two ounces of marijuana as an infraction, removing the possibility of jail time and a criminal conviction. Instead, the penalty would be a civil fine only. Other marijuana-related offenses would also have reduced penalties under this bill. Please let your legislators know you support this penalty reduction.

Meanwhile, if you would like to see Indiana adopt a medical marijuana law, please email your legislators and ask them to support medical marijuana. Likewise, legislators around the country are now beginning to seriously consider taking marijuana off the criminal market, legalizing it for adults, and taxing and regulating it similarly to alcohol. If you support taxing and regulating marijuana for adults, make sure your senator and representative know how you feel.

There are other ways to help, such as subscribing to our email alerts and forwarding them to friends and family and submitting letters to the editor of your local paper. Also, if you are a current or former law enforcement officer, or someone who has suffered negative consequences from a marijuana arrest, such as a lost job or denial of benefits, please email us, as your voice could be particularly persuasive. Please include your 9-digit zip code in your email so we can look up your state legislators.

Learn about Indiana's marijuana laws

Indiana has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration and up to a $5,000 fine. Sadly, over 62% of all homicides and 70% of all reported robberies went unsolved according to the state-based reports from Indiana state law enforcement to the FBI for the year 2011. During the same year, law enforcement devoted valuable time and resources to making over 13,400 marijuana-related arrests, 86% of which were for possession.

And did you know that African Americans are 3.4 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana in Indiana, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates? For more information on how the war on marijuana is often waged unequally, check out this report by the ACLU

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