TERRE HAUTE, Ind.–The chances of the Indiana legislature taking up any kind of bill that would legalize marijuana in 2020 are slim to none. But, Illinois and Michigan will allow recreational cannabis, beginning in 2020, and prosecutors in border counties may face a tough decision.
“I think these border county prosecutors are gonna have a difficult time navigating this,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, a guest on Abdul at Large. “To me the biggest thing is I just want to make sure we’re treating everyone fairly, and when you cross that state line I think they’re gonna run into a number of issues, and hopefully they’re prepared to handle them.”
One of those issues is whether police arrest people who bring marijuana across the line. Another is whether the prosecutors will pursue the cases and attempt to have the people put in jail.
Mears said his decision earlier this year to stop prosecuting people who are charged with simple possession, is based on priorities.
“We’ve dismissed somewhere around 340 possession of marijuana cases. We’ve declined to file another 40 marijuana cases. And, what that’s done is it’s freed up personnel for me.”
Mears said he believes freeing up personnel and prosecutors will allow his office to tackle bigger problems in Marion County, like violent crime, or people who have an unnecessarily burdensome record that keeps them from getting a job, and thus trickles down to cause more violent crime.
But, just because it may work in Marion County, and those prosecutions have only been stopped in the past couple of months, Mears said he realizes other county prosecutors may not necessarily agree with his viewpoint.
“They certainly don’t agree with my position. But, my position was motivated by equity in priorities and they might have different priorities,” he said. “They may not deal with the same issues we deal with here in Marion County and I certainly respect their decision.”
Mears said for Marion County he believes it’s the right decision, and it was made after careful thought.
“I don’t have an endless supply of prosecutors and I don’t have an endless supply of resources. When I look at the biggest problems we have in Marion County right now, marijuana is not my problem. People soking joints is not what keeps me up at night.”
Bills that have been filed in the state legislature for the 2020 session regarding marijuana include one that would protect people who have permission for medical marijuana in other states from prosecution in Indiana if they are caught, and a bill that would legalize cannabis for people with terminal illnesses.