Last Update: October 14, 2014

Despite positive bills, little progress made to improve marijuana laws in Indiana

Unfortunately, Sen. Karen Tallian's sensible bill, which would have replaced harsh criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana with a simple fine, did not receive a hearing or a vote in 2014. Sen. Tallian has long been a champion of improving marijuana laws in Indiana; her bill  SB 314 would have reclassified possession of less than two ounces of marijuana as an infraction, removing the possibility of jail time and a criminal conviction, which can follow a person for life and affect job prospects and housing for a decade. Please encourage your representative and senator to support an end to criminal penalties for people who choose to use a substance that is safer than alcohol.

National polling continues to show strong support for improving marijuana laws, and support for compassionate medical cannabis laws remains high. Unfortunately, there was no comprehensive medical marijuana bill put forth in Indiana in 2014. If you would like to see Indiana adopt a medical marijuana law, please email your legislators and ask them to support medical marijuana.

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 a fine of up to $5,000. Sadly, almost 90% of all reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts go unsolved, according to the state-based reports from Indiana state law enforcement to the FBI for the year 2012. During the same year, law enforcement devoted valuable time and resources to either arresting or citing over 9,000 individuals for marijuana-related offenses, 86% of which were for possession.

African Americans often bear the brunt of unfair enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies, and in Indiana, blacks are over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their white counterparts, 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.

Please consider asking your legislators to support legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. This fiscally sound approach would increase freedom, end the possibility of disparities in enforcement of possession, re-direct law enforcement resources to real crime, and allow the state to control and generate revenue from this lucrative product.

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