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STATEWIDE — On January 9th, Cannabis Day, advocates and opponents of marijuana legalization gathered at the Indiana State House for a rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity. The organization believes that legalizing cannabis has the potential to boost small businesses, create jobs, and generate revenue for necessary services. Additionally, they argue that it could allow Indiana law enforcement to focus on violent crimes while being mindful of taxpayers.

State Representative Jake Teshka, stated to 93 WIBC’s Tony Katz that Americans for Prosperity is approaching the issue from a criminal justice standpoint. “You might have how many untold thousands of Hoosiers today being busted for simple possession, and they’re stuck with a record for the rest of their life” he said.

Indiana currently has strict laws against the recreational use of marijuana, with possession of any amount classified as a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1000. The sale or cultivation of more than 10 lbs. or within 1,000 feet of a school or other specialized area carries a minimum sentence of 2-8 years and a fine of $10,000.

However, possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana was decriminalized in Marion County on September 30, 2019.

Despite calls for reform, Governor Holcomb has stated that he will not legalize marijuana in Indiana until the federal law changes. “While some states have chosen to ignore [the prohibition on marijuana], I will not. I will uphold all laws, regardless of my personal beliefs,” he said.

Teshka also indicated that the state is preparing for potential changes to marijuana laws under the Biden Administration. “We know the Biden Administration has called for a look at this, to see if we can reschedule or deschedule, and we want to be prepared for that. We want to make sure that Hoosiers get a first crack at setting up businesses rather than multi-state operators coming in to swoop up the market,” he said.

The rally ended at 3 pm, after a day of spirited debate and discussion on the future of marijuana in Indiana.