Early next year, Indiana will face a major problem: it will be surrounded by states where cannabis is legal. Michigan opens its sales on December 1, and Illinois on the 1st of January.
State officials are therefore considering what measures they could take to prevent an upsurge in drug trafficking between States. While the current government is more focused on an exacerbated prohibition. With all state agencies mobilizing to fight cannabis. Democratic legislators have another idea: to eliminate criminal sanctions for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
The aim is to prevent people from going to prison for a simple offense of possession. In a context where more than half of the United States now allows its medical and recreational uses. This offense would be treated a little less as an offense, and no longer as a crime, and punishable by a simple fine.
“For the simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, you will not go to jail.” Democratic Senate leader Tim Lanane told the NW Times. “You will still be held accountable to the judicial system, but it will become an offense and not a crime as it is now. »
Cannabis possession is the second most common cause of arrest in Indiana. A situation that will not be easy due to the proximity of 15 of the state’s 92 counties to legal markets.
Democratic legislators are also concerned about the budget that the state will provide to finance both repression and prosecution. With a focus on the impact on prison overcrowding. Some state prosecutors, such as Ryan Mears, have already decided to stop prosecuting ordinary users and focus more on more serious crimes.
“I’ve been a prosecutor for 12 years,” he explains. “I have the experience of seeing what violent crime is. And over the past 12 years, I can tell you that small amounts of cannabis are not our problem. »
His decision only covers simple possession, at less than one ounce of cannabis (28g).
“We will continue to prosecute people who have used cannabis before having an accident or who are under the visible influence of cannabis while driving, these kinds of cases,” he said. “And also public consumption. I don’t want people to think that we can consume in public. That is not what this is about. It is to ensure that we treat everyone fairly. »
3 bills to decriminalize are currently under consideration in Indiana. House Bill 1540 would punish possession of 10 grams of cannabis with a fine of $100 to $200. House Bill 1283 seeks to punish possession of 30 grams of cannabis with a fine of up to $25. A third measure, House Bill 1658, would decriminalize the possession of two ounces of cannabis.
Currently, possession of any quantity of cannabis is considered a criminal offense. Punishable by imprisonment for up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000.
According to a recent survey, 78% of Indiana residents believe that people convicted of possessing small amounts of cannabis should not serve a prison sentence.