Indiana Panel To Study State Marijuana Laws

by Rick Howlett on July 5, 2011

A newly formed committee of Indiana lawmakers will soon begin a study of the state’s marijuana laws and whether they should be amended.

The study panel was created this year by the Indiana General Assembly and is looking at ways to ease jail overcrowding.

State Senator Karen Tallian has been a vocal critic of the state’s marijuana laws and will make a presentation to the panel.

She’s urging the group to study the possible creation of a medical marijuana program, legalizing industrial hemp and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“This is the first time through in Indiana, and I don’t expect that we’re going to change the world. But I do want to get everybody thinking about this, and looking at what other states have done,” she said.

Thirteen states have eased penalties for having small amounts of marijuana, and medical marijuana is now available in 16 states. Possession of a small amount of marijuana in Indiana is punishable by up to a year in jail and a 5,000 fine.

Tallian says there’s been mixed reaction from law enforcement officials she’s spoken with about decriminalization. Some say it would save time and resources while others contend it would encourage drug use.

Police departments in Kentucky are adjusting to a jail overcrowding law passed this year that allows officers to issue citations instead of arresting people for certain offenses, including some drug charges.

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