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Experts tell state panel marijuana prohibition has failed

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A state panel heard from a parade of experts Thursday as it began studying whether to legalize marijuana in Indiana or reduce criminal penalties on small amounts of the drug.

The experts shared a common message: The prohibition against marijuana use in the United States has failed, and Indiana and its citizens stand to benefit from changing the law.

"The public recognizes that our marijuana laws have done more harm than good," Daniel Abrahamson of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Indiana Legislature's Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee.

Lawmakers have approved medical marijuana in 16 states and the District of Columbia. They have eliminated penalties on small amounts of marijuana in 13 other states.

Abrahamson said those changes have not met with negative consequences such as an uptick in marijuana use. And he said there is nothing standing in the way of Indiana changing its law as other states have.

"The federal government cannot require states to make marijuana illegal," he said. In no instance, he said, has a state changed its mind and "re-criminalized" marijuana after decriminalizing personal use.

Noah Member of the Marijuana Policy Project said marijuana use is widespread despite being illegal and that laws against possession ruin people's lives by sending them to prison for using a substance he said is safer than alcohol.

Member suggested marijuana should be regulated by the state much like alcohol. He said states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen no increase in teen use of the drug.

Abrahamson estimated Indiana could raise $44 million a year in sales taxes alone if it regulated and taxed marijuana.

Democratic state Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes successfully pushed lawmakers to study the issue. She says the state has "draconian" marijuana laws.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would like to wait and see what the panel finds before taking a position.

Indiana lawmakers this year banned the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, also called spice, which sometimes has dangerous side effects.

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  • Interesting Comments
    I am with the side that favors legalizing it, controlling it, and taxing the crap out of it. There are so many flaws in the marijuana/meth comparison that none of us has time to point them all out.

    As for Bob's comment about finding inner peace in Jesus not drugs -- It's not too much of a stretch to theorize that Jesus might have smoked a little weed. After all, his Dad put it here. And we know he made and drank wine, made from grapes that his Dad also put here. There's a passage in Genesis about it.

    One last point: Our public safety people have more important things to do than arresting and jailing kids for posession of small amounts.
  • About time
    There is no legitimate reason to ban any substance that is naturally produced. Our drugs laws should reflect that. Marijuana, peyote, and salvia produce natural highs with 0% chance of death due to overdose. Marijuana doesn't destroy people's lives like meth does.

    And don't quote the old slippery slope fallacy. The debate here is about the legalization of marijuana, nothing else. Just because one product is legalized doesn't mean we have to legalize anything else for the same reasons.
  • Domino effect
    SO where would you stop with legalization? If marijuana gets legalized the meth heads would soon want their drug of choice legalized as well. Where would it stop? The laws were enacted for a good reason, and that reason still stands.
  • Drugs Are Bad
    Find inner peace in Jesus not drugs.
  • Marijuana
    Wow this all comes a little late for me :( 15 moths ago my two year old got outside while I was doing my homework. My neighbor called 911 and when the cops arrived they smelled marijuana....While they were quick to point the finger and call me a drug user they disregarded the fact that I worked a full time job, was a full time college student with a 4.0, and had a tidy kid friendly home....I was the breaking news, the crime beat, and the 11 oclock top story and had to move out of my home for 5 months because of 1.8 grams of marijuana and i was convicted of child neglect. Thing is i am a potsmoker but that doesnt make me a bad mom. I had checked on him and he was sleeping I didnt hear him wake up and had no idea he could unlock my door. It really was just an accident that ended up ruining my life....hope it is legalized soon so people dont have to be treated like I was. I cant even get a job at walmart!
  • Yea!
    Come on Indiana! Let's be progressive in something shall we? I know this state can become something that the rest of the country looks to for being somewhat progressive.
  • What?
    Whay would anyone even compare meth and marijuana? You obviously have no clue what you are talking about. Big FAIL!
  • What about alcohol?
    In the story below (pretend to) replace marijuana with alcohol, so i think we need to make alcohol illegal! She was weak and had a husband who was away. People aren't perfect and it's not the drug, it's the person.
  • difference dude
    Meth eats your body and makes you dead. Pot makes you eat cheetos and ...
  • mythbuster82
    Marijuana should have been decriminalized years ago, anyone who disagrees with that needs to put down the crack pipe. On top of that, legalize hemp!!! WTF are we waiting for? Oh right, that would hurt too many corporations of course! The people that actually run this once great nation.
    • Crazy!!
      A few years ago I came home from Iraq to find out that (my wife at that time) was using maijuana. She cared more about getting high than taling care of my two boys. What a shame. I'm not divorced and have custody of our two boys. Marijuana ruins people's lives when people care more about a drug than there own family.
      • Meth? Really?
        I think we do need to reevaluate the possible positive uses of marijuana.

      • Complete nonsense
        There it is...immediately link marijuana and meth. Marijuana is not physically addicting and has shown in study after study that it can help patients. Meth has no medical value and is physically addicting.
      • It;s About Time
        Indiana has the most stupid possession laws around. It is unbelievable what charges come around for what is obvious personal use quantities. It's about time!
      • Really? You went there?
        Meth has absolutely no medicinal use at all. Cannabis has been proven to ease the suffering of those with HIV and late stage cancers but I am sure you won't care too much about that argument until you or someone you care about finds themselves in a situation where medical marijuana could ease their suffering. What was your argument again?
      • And?
        Our state prohibition against methamphetamines is failing, too - so can we look forward to making meth/crank legal as well? This argument is a little juvenile at best...

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