Senator's bill would ease penalty for pot possession

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An Indiana senator introduced legislation Tuesday that would decriminalize possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana—an amount large enough to get the attention of at least one national anti-drug advocate.

Sen. Karen Tallian’s proposal, Senate Bill 580, would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 2 ounces, or 56 grams, of pot to an infraction punishable by a fine. Broken down, an ounce typically yields 30 to 60 marijuana cigarettes depending on their size and the quality of the pot.

Fourteen states have decriminalized various amounts of marijuana, but most use 1 ounce as the limit before tougher penalties kick in.

Calvina Fay of the Drug Free America Foundation said that loosening marijuana laws sends the wrong message, and Tallian’s proposal won't help.

“Two ounces is a significant amount of marijuana to possess at one time,” she said. “Where is the line? Is it 2 ounces, is it 1 ounce? To keep it illegal … is the better thing to do as a whole.”

Currently in Indiana, possessing 30 grams—roughly an ounce—or less of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense and carries a sentence of up to one year in prison. Possession of more than 30 grams is a Class D felony that carries a sentence of one to three years.

Tallian’s bill also would eliminate the $3.50-per-gram tax on industrial hemp production.

The Indiana chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws issued a written statement applauding Tallian’s efforts. The group said decriminalization is the first step toward taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, which would “bring millions of new dollars into Indiana’s government and create thousands of new jobs.”

Some lawmakers are taking a more lenient view of low-level pot possession and its impact on the prison system.

Republican State Sen. Brent Steele, for instance, said he plans to introduce legislation that would make possession of 10 grams or less an infraction, rather than a criminal misdemeanor.

“I don’t think mere possession alone is worth involving the entire judicial system and all that’s involved with it,” Steele told IBJ in September.

The 10 grams that Steele is targeting is the equivalent of a little more than one-third of an ounce.

Fay said her group does not support incarceration for first-time offenders carrying small amounts, noting that many drug courts already offer alternatives such as probation, community service or treatment.

“Nobody’s advocating that low-level offenders should be serving years and years in prison,” she said. “What we’re saying is hold them accountable by keeping it illegal.”

Tallian, D-Portage, is no stranger to the marijuana legalization debate. She pushed for a summer study group in 2011 and last session introduced a bill that would have decriminalized possession of even a larger amount, 3 ounces.

Tallian said she’s open to lowering the amount in the current bill.

“I wanted to put in something that seemed reasonable compared to what other states are doing, but also would leave me room for negotiation,” Tallian said. “I’m hoping it will make it a little more enticing.”

Tallian’s current bill has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law.


  • Huh?
    Also, I don't see this doing a whole lot for the real estate market. If I am a person from another state, and I am passionate enough about cannabis to move another state, wouldn't I move to a Colorado or Washington, where I can smoke in my home without fear of reprisal? Why would I move to Indiana, where I would not be allowed to grow my own, and can still be ticketed(note: for a first offence)and possibly be sent to drug "treatment" or jailed for susequent offences? I say this as a supporter of full legalization. I am simply playing devil's advocate. If you are going to support a bill, know what you are supporting. This is a step in the right direction, but still gives law enforcement the ability to tell us cannabis is "wrong" and "bad". This is 2013. Cannabis can be a real cash commodity for this state. Job creation and tax revenue are two real word effects that Hoosiers are passing up by not demanding that cannabis be fully legalized, taxed, and regulated like alcohol.
  • About time, but more could be done.
    Incorrect, a decriminalization bill does nothing to create new jobs or tax revenue because it does not create a legally regulated market.It may save some law enforcement dollars. Decrim is not the same as legalization. In the eyes of the state, cannabis is still seen as "wrong" and "immoral". I applaud the senator for her efforts, this is the first step in the right direction. Hopefully in the years to come, Hoosiers will wake up and tell the general assembly to catch up with the rest of the country.
  • Finally
    I'm glad to know politicians in indiana are beginning to open their eyes to how profitable decriminalization can be. Not only will a completely new job market open up, but due to the change, the population will increase, raising the real estate market. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
    • finally
      this would save tax payors a lot of money. prosecuting for small amounts is a big waste of tax dollars. it should be 1 ounce
    • It's High Time...
      ...the government finally stopped spending so much on dealing with such minor infractions by otherwise law-abiding citizens!
    • Timing is Everything
      I wonder what would have happened had this come up while former Governor Daniels was in office. Since he got busted for pot in college, I wonder if he would sign the bill whilst roasting a big fat monster! Probably not, but it's humorous to think about.
    • I Vote Yes
      It's about time. There is absolutely no need to waste law enforcement resources on small amounts of pot. Cops ought to be going after bad guys. Millions of perfectly normal people, young and old alike, have at least tried it. Law enforcement should be more focused on the stuff that kills people, like meth and heroin. My kids (both college graduates) tell me heroin's making a big comeback because Oxycontin is harder to get these days.
    • Something sensible
      I agree with decriminalizing marijuana. Marijuana, while not completely harmless, should not constitute a criminal offensive for possession. Law enforcement and judicial resource are better spent elsewhere.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

    2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

    3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

    4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

    5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!