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STATE HOUSE--People who are caught with small amounts of marijuana should not go to jail, said Democrat state senators Karen Tallian (Ogden-Dunes), and Greg Taylor (Indianapolis). Both are pushing bills to keep people out of jail who are caught with cannabis in different circumstances.

Tallian’s bill (SB 114), would reduce the penalty for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to an infraction for a first offense, which means an officer could simply give them a ticket.

“No more jail tome. We just don’t understand why the Republican legislature and the governor refuse to understand that that’s what Hoosiers want,” said Tallian, at a Thursday press conference at the state house. 

She said 12 states, including D.C., are fully legal, pointing out that two are right next door (Illinois and Michigan). Twenty-seven states have no criminal penalties for possession, she said.

“Ohio did that in 1975 and the last time I looked Ohio does not have a history of reefer madness. But, Indiana clearly lags behind and we are now one of only 14 states that allows only CBD oil,” said Tallian, who added she believes that a revamp of the state’s CBD laws is needed.

LINK: Senate Bill 86

LINK: Senate Bill 114

LINK: Senate Bill 436

Taylor said his bill (SB 86) provides a defense for the possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, as long as the person has an authorized prescription for medical marijuana or has been certified by a physician for treatment with marijuana. 

“Sending people to jail with a valid medical marijuana prescription is bad and Hoosiers should not be paying for their jail time.” he said.

Taylor is also upset about a bill (SB 436) authored by Sen. Mike Young that would give the Indiana Attorney General the power to prosecute marijuana cases in counties where local prosecutors have chosen not to prosecute such cases, which is the case in Marion County.

“This means that the State of Indiana would trample on the rights of local government and local decision-making power.”

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee is scheduled to hear SB 436 on Tuesday, January 28. The two Senate Democratic marijuana bills were assigned to the same committee but have not been scheduled for hearings. Tuesday’s committee hearing is the final opportunity to hear Senate bills in Corrections.

Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty.