The legalization of marijuana in neighboring states may have had an influence in this matter. Indiana borders Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. Three out of four of these states (Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio) currently have legislature on the books allowing constituents to use Cannabis in one form or another without fear of criminal consequences. Kentucky is slated to vote on the issue of medical marijuana legalization in early 2020, so this may soon change. (2)
If Kentucky legalizes marijuana for medicinal use, Indiana will be completely surrounded by weed. It would be incredibly naïve to believe that visitors from neighboring states will not be bringing it with them when they cross state lines.
Would that be legal? No.
If these visitors were intercepted by law enforcement and prosecuted, would that add to Indiana’s overburdened criminal justice system? Yes.
Some communities and officials are choosing to adapt with the times, and reallocate their resources. It is being recognized that pursuing these low level/nonviolent charges, may not be the wisest choice on how to spend taxpayer’s dollars. Perhaps police officers and court officials could be more influential to the overall safety of a community if they were able to spend more time catching violent offenders.
The Marion County prosecutor thinks so. Marion County is located in the center of the state, contains the state capital: Indianapolis, and is home to just shy of a million people. (US Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/marioncountyindiana)
“Mears announced Monday that his office will no longer prosecute certain marijuana possession offenses in Marion County. If a person possesses less than one ounce of marijuana, that person will not face formal charges from the prosecutor’s office, effective immediately. The policy is aimed at diverting resources to violent crimes, such as murder and sexual assault.” (3)
It now appears that Lake County officials may follow Marion County’s lead. This week, County officials discussed the option to modify marijuana possession from a criminal to a civil infraction. Under the new ordinance, individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a ticket and ordered to pay a fine instead of going to jail.
“The Lake County Council has preliminarily endorsed an ordinance establishing a civil fine for marijuana possession, instead of requiring people caught with pot to go to jail. The change is being spurred by the forthcoming legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois and Michigan.” (4)
These baby steps are a big deal to Hoosiers. This shows constituents that politicians are listening, and making the first moves toward legalization. Given these recent developments, how long will it be until Indiana changes laws and plans for legalization of marijuana? Time will tell.
Information has been gathered from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed, and is subject to change without notice.
- Carden, Dan. (2018, November 14). Poll finds more than 8 in 10 Hoosiers favor legalization of recreational or medicinal marijuana. The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved from: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/poll-finds-more-than-in-hoosiers-favor-legalization-of-recreational/article_849e8f55-5fa8-5b6b-818d-4bf8fcee3e5a.html
- Drury, Adam. (2019, November 3). Kentucky May Soon Legalize Medical Marijuana. High Times Magazine. Retrieved from: https://hightimes.com/news/kentucky-may-soon-legalize-medical-marijuana/
- Hill, Crystal & Martin, Ryan. (2019, September 30). Marion County will no longer prosecute simple marijuana possession, officials say. The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved from: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2019/09/30/marion-county-no-longer-prosecute-marijuana-possession-officials-say/3818748002/
Carden, Dan. (2019, December 10). Getting with the times on pot or thumbing nose at state law? Lake County mulls tickets, not jail. The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved from: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/getting-with-the-times-on-pot-or-thumbing-nose-at/article_77bb2a8f-6538-5c29-b634-179a7d0f3093.html