State senator introduces bill to lessen penalties for marijuana

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Washington and Colorado have voted to decriminalize marijuana—could Indiana be next?

State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) has introduced Senate Bill 580, which would lessen the penalty of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana to an infraction. Violators would then be fined. The bill would reduce the penalties for distribution and possession of metabolites while driving. It would also bolster industrial hemp production and scrap the $3.50/gram tax.

Washington and Colorado voted to decriminalize marijuana in November. The future of those laws remains in doubt, however, because the federal government could still enforce federal law.

In November, Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell told a legislative committee that he would “legalize and tax” marijuana, saying the substance wasn’t going anywhere and that the national trend was going in that direction. State police later clarified Whitesell’s comments, saying that he was speaking in a “philosophical” sense and wasn’t offering a legal opinion, adding that Whitesell, as a police officer, didn’t support marijuana legalization.

You can read the bill in its entirety here.


  • Daniel Obermeyer

    Washington and Colorado's votes weren't to decriminalize, they were passed as complete legalization for those aged 21 and older.

      • Daniel Obermeyer

        Vaguely. Decriminalization, as it would be for Indiana, here, would be changing the offense from a criminal offense, punishable by incarceration, to more of a petty offense, punishable in the same way as a traffic ticket (fines and possibly court fees). In Colorado and Washington, it is legalized. It is completely legal for a person, 21 years of age or older, to possess and consume limited amounts of marijuana. The sale of marijuana is taxed, and the revenue goes back into the communities. Legalization.
        This is true under:
        Amendment 64, which passed in Colorado.
        and also, Initiative 502, which passed in Washington

  • Daniel Obermeyer

    Also, state police should not have to "clarify" an officers statement on the law. There job is only to enforce the laws as they are at the time. They should still be allowed to have personal views on issues, because they are not the branch of government that makes the laws. In fact, if a law is not working, the police officers should be the first to notice that, and lobby for a reform, not just blindly support any law thrown their way.

  • brian

    i hope this passes 62grams and their trying to send me 2 person over it !!!!their not gonna win the war against marijuana that obama wants 2 do so just legalize it

  • DRT52

    Brian, unfortunately, based on your communication skills, you give the anti-marijuana people "proof" of it's harmful effects. Although, personally, i am for its legalization.

    • jbh51

      Well, I have to agree with DTR52. Brian is afflicted. Legalizing and taxing the use and possession of small amounts would save the state millions. Face it. It will never go away. People of all professional levels do it. You could smoke half a pound and not be as impaired as someone who has had 6 beers……..That is a fact! However, after indulging daily for the past 40 years. Brian is the exception to that rule and his affliction scares the hell out of me……LMAO!

    • JJJ

      I just smoked a fatty and can tell Brian has misdirected hatred, amongst other problems.

      I believe he means he got caught with 62 grams (2 ounces +) of marijuana. Possession of over 30 grams of Marijuana is a class D felony in Indiana punishable by fines and/or up to three years in prison. Now that we got that out of the way…….

      If your charged with a single D felony possession of marijuana, your best bet IS to go sit in a DOC facility for the usual 3-6 months in lieu of the 2 years house arrest/probation/work release they will offer you.

  • Cordia

    Why must Indiana stay behind the curb?? Other states have legalized this herb from the earth. No one has died from the use of marijuana. But people die daily from alcohol and other real drugs EVERYDAY!! Indiana will never get ahead of the curb!!

    • kxd

      The phrase you think that you are using is "behind the curve" … technically there is likely concrete or storm sewers "behind the curb".

      Not all cannabis users are so ignorant when posting but, the idiots do enough to scare the non-users into fearing decriminalization.

  • michelle

    I think its a great idea. There r so many ppl who smoke it. If they would tax it theyd make a hell of alot of money for the state.

  • Brent

    Let's see? Tobacco will cause cancer so we lawyer up and rip em. The bucks are still flowing and the ads are riveting. Now we want to give a blessing to Mary Jane. Who will the law firms sue? Oh, and how about those medical bills that Obamacare (us) will pay! Frankly, I don't care if citizens want to delibertly drown. I don't feel responsible to pay for it…………… you?

  • JJJ

    This bill has been introduced a few times already. Will it pick up steam and go anywhere this time?
    I urge you to recall the last time it was introduced, it was passed over for time constraints.

  • Amanda

    Sure..go ahead leagalize it, most of the people that get busted and/or thrown in jail for it are deadbeats living off the government anyways. This way we won't have to pay for their foodstamps AND jail time.

      • sherrybell05

        Sounds like she's got a lot of family members that she's tired of paying for their foodstamps.. just go tell them to their face and quit posting on the internet, if they get foodstamps it's less likely they have internet to see what cousin, sister, auntie,grandma, or BROTHER Amanda has to say.

  • kxd

    Cannabis should be regulated for sale in a manner similar to alcohol or tobacco.

    The government has no right to pick and choose which recreational indulgences are legal or illegal. The free market is self-regulating when it is allowed to be. We don't tell people they have to eat salads every day, we don't make people exercise, we don't enforce bedtimes because we are adults. The choice of what do put in your own body should be left to individual adults.

    Hate pot or love it, I don't care. It's an issue of liberty and self-determination and the government has been overstepping its authority on cannabis since 1937.

  • jim

    I don't think pot is a dangerous drug and the whole issue is tax dollars. The states that legalized Marijuana will make lots of tax dollars and create jobs. I don't smoke the stuff, I tried it while I was overseas.

  • Derek

    This is common sense and a step in the right direction. Prohibition doesn't work. It hasn't worked and quite frankly has been a heavy burden on our criminal justice system. Our pipeline from school to prison has a lot to do with marijuana prohibition. By the way, the federal government grows marijuana at the University of Mississippi and gives it to the remaining patients of the Compassionate IND program.

  • tyson

    the prohibition of pot needs to stop! We are ruining a lot of young peoples lives who get busted with small amounts and the fact of the matter is that it is way less harmful than alcohol and prescription pills.

    what do we have to do to get this bill thru?!

    and why wont our state realize its never going to be eradicated so we should be selling and taxing it rather than letting the cartels and criminals make all the money. All u need is simple regulation similar to alcohol to keep it out of the hands of children c'mon Indiana this is a no brain'er

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