Monday, February 25, 2013
Ind. Law - Status of marijuana legislation in General Assembly
Maureen Hayden, chief of the CNHI Statehouse Bureau, reports this weekend in the Mt. Vernon Register News:
INDIANAPOLIS — In the flurry of activity at the Statehouse in recent weeks, I missed reporting some sad news for stoners: The legislation to decriminalize marijuana is dead.Here is Dan Carden's Feb. 16th story in the NWI Times, headed "Tallian's pot decriminalization bill likely won't be heard in Senate."
State Sen. Karen Tallian’s bill to make possession of 2 ounces of marijuana into an infraction, like a speeding ticket, died when it didn’t get a hearing in the Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law before a critical deadline passed.
Tallian’s response was anything but mellow. The Democratic grandmother from Ogden Dunes told The Times of Northwest Indiana reporter Dan Carden: “I don’t understand why they refused to even hear it. We have certainly heard some really idiotic bills in that committee.”
Setting aside the question of idiocy in the General Assembly, here’s news that may hearten those who’ve been following the pot debate: Legislation that would roll back Indiana’s marijuana laws — some of the toughest in the nation — is still very much alive.
Tucked inside a 400-plus page bill to overhaul Indiana’s criminal code is language that would turn most felony-level marijuana crimes into mere misdemeanors. It puts an end to the reefer madness of a past General Assembly that made possession of marijuana a felony if you’d been caught once before or had more than 1 ounce.
So it would still be a crime to get caught with cannabis, but no longer a crime that could land you in prison or make you automatically lose your driver’s license. * * *
Tallian’s bill was a pipe dream — no way is this current General Assembly ready to join the 14 states that have decriminalized possession (or the handful of other states that have started down that path.)
But it wasn’t without some hope: Late last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brent Steele — a rock-ribbed, law-and-order guy if there ever was one — came out in support of Tallian’s proposal. He likened Indiana’s marijuana laws to “smashing an ant with a sledgehammer.”
Steele backed off after he decided the idea wasn’t politically palatable to his conservative colleagues — at least not yet.
Remember that committee chairman who wouldn’t give Tallian’s bill a hearing? He’s promised Tallian that he’ll research the issue before next year’s session. Maybe that’s a sign that decriminalization isn’t dead, just dormant.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 25, 2013 08:44 AM
Posted to Indiana Law