Indiana currently has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the nation. That could change soon, as lawmakers consider a number of bills related to marijuana reform.
The first bill would decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. Senate Bill 314, Introduced by Senator Karen Tallian last week, would make possession of up to two ounces of marijuana a Class C infraction, punishable by a maximum $500 fine without jail time. Currently, possession of the same amount is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
SB314 would also allow the industrial cultivation of hemp and legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for research.
The bill, assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections & Criminal Law, is similar to one that Tallian introduced last session. That bill died in a Senate committee without hearing.
In addition to Tallian’s efforts to legalize industrial hemp in Indiana, another bill to legalize hemp production has been introduced by Senator Richard D. Young. Young’s standalone hemp legalization bill, Senate Bill 357, would allow the Department of Agriculture to license the cultivation and production of industrial hemp. The bill would require the state to apply to the federal government for a waiver to allow them to grow industrial hemp, due to the fact that it is currently banned by the United States Controlled Substance Act. Several states have received such waivers from the federal government.
The final marijuana-related legislation is House Bill 1185, which would allow individuals arrested for marijuana possession to use a medical necessity defense in court.
If passed, the bill would allow “a defense to prosecution for marijuana possession if the person who possessed the marijuana did so under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner who acted in the scope of the practitioner’s professional practice.
While this bill would not go as far as legalizing medical marijuana, it would work to protect patients caught with marijuana that they use for medical purposes. They would be able to justify their need for marijuana in court, which could result in their charges being reduced or dropped.