A Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana in Indiana Has a Hearing but No Vote!

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A bill in favour of marijuana decriminalisation was given a hearing in the Indiana legislature for the first time ever during a legislative session.

On Wednesday, representatives from the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee discussed Bill HR 1297.

Author Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-District 38) noted that the bill’s reception at a committee hearing indicates a change in public opinion towards marijuana use, and he thinks that some legislators’ views have also evolved in this regard.

Vannatter claimed to be one of them when he said that, upon first being elected to office 12 years ago, he was strongly against any legislation in Indiana that would legalise marijuana use.

Now, he’s written legislation that would decriminalise possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. The measure also includes edibles and sets the minimum age requirement for possessing cannabis at 21.

Vets who use medicinal marijuana would no longer have to traverse state boundaries to receive it, according to proponents of the law who testified in favour of it. Some people believe this will free up police resources to deal with more severe crimes rather than minor offences like marijuana use.

 

Ryan Mears, the prosecutor for Marion County, announced in 2019 that his office would no longer criminally prosecute anybody found with an ounce or less of marijuana.

Some people are against decriminalising marijuana because they fear it would lead to an increase in traffic accidents and deaths caused by impaired drivers, and because it will cause chaos for businesses that may be forced by the federal government to implement drug testing policies.

Vannatter claimed that Wednesday’s discussion was a first step towards enacting a comparable law during a future session, despite the fact that the committee members did not vote on HB 1297.

As VanNatter put it, “we can’t do anything without at least talking about it,” so now that he’s heard from both supporters and detractors, the team will keep discussing.

It’s important to note that HB 1297 isn’t the only marijuana-related bill now pending in the legislature. If passed, House Bill 1263 would legalise its medical usage.

Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would no longer be a crime under Senate Bill 70.

Under Senate Bill 82, drivers who test positive for THC but are not under the influence of alcohol would be able to use that fact as a defence in court.

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