State Senator Karen Tallian has long been a champion for improving marijuana-related laws in Indiana, and she has already introduced a new, compassionate bill that would establish a medical marijuana program in Indiana. If passed, SB 284 would allow patients to use and safely access medical cannabis, as is the case in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Medical marijuana can effectively alleviate a wide range of debilitating symptoms and medical conditions, and seriously ill Hoosiers should not be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using medical marijuana. Nearly half the U.S. population lives in a state that has a medical marijuana program, including Illinois and Michigan. Seriously ill patients in Indiana should not be left behind.
If you are an Indiana resident, please contact your state representative and senator today and ask them to stand up for patients. Then, please ask your friends and family members in your community to raise their voices to protect patients, too.
Indiana state Senator Karen Tallian has taken an important step towards improving marijuana laws in Indiana by introducing SB 314. This bill would reduce the penalty for possessing a small amount of marijuana to a civil fine.
Currently, a person who possesses up to 30 grams of marijuana in Indiana faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Indiana’s penalties are some of the harshest in the country. SB 314 aims to fix that by establishing a more reasonable approach. Under the bill, a person who possesses up to 2 ounces of marijuana could not be arrested or jailed and would only be subject to a fine of up to only $500. Importantly, a civil infraction is similar to a speeding ticket and is not considered a criminal offense — which could affect employment, housing, or student loans.
This legislation is a major step in the right direction for Indiana’s marijuana laws. If you are an Indiana resident, please take a moment and tell your legislators to support SB 314.
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.