Indiana police leader says he'd legalize marijuana

Associated Press
November 27, 2012
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Indiana's state police chief told lawmakers Tuesday that marijuana should be legalized and taxed, prompting his own agency to quickly walk back his statement as lawmakers consider decriminalization.

State police Superintendent Paul Whitesell told members of the State Budget Committee on Tuesday that he's followed the issue during his 40-year law enforcement career and believes "it is here; it's going to stay." He cited voter-passed measures in Colorado and Washington that allow adults to have small amounts of marijuana as evidence of a national shift on the issue.

"My thought is, toward the zenith of my career, it is here; it's going to stay," Whitesell told the panel. "That's an awful lot of victimization that goes with it.

"If it were up to me, I do believe I would legalize it and tax it, particularly in sight of the fact that several other states have now come to that part of their legal system as well."

Capt. Dave Bursten, state police spokesman, quickly backtracked from Whitesell's statement Tuesday, saying the superintendent "rendered a philosophical opinion," not an official one.

"The making of such laws are not the purview of the State Police and he was not asked for an opinion in that context," Bursten wrote in a statement. "Although the Superintendent personally understands the theoretical argument for taxation and legalization, as a police officer with over 40 years of experience he does not support the legalization of marijuana."

Bursten added that no interviews with Whitesell would be granted.

Whitesell's statement was in response to Democratic Rep. Sheila Klinker's question about pending proposals to decriminalize small amounts of the drug. Klinker said after the hearing she was surprised to hear his response, but believes much of the country is changing its attitude on marijuana.

"I think the tendency throughout the United States is to control it, because the drug cartels are controlling us in many ways and getting a lot of our folks not only killed, but getting the money, rather than taxing the situation and controlling it," Klinker said.

Democratic Sen. Karen Tallian has proposed decriminalizing marijuana and Republican Sen. Brent Steele said he would consider a similar measure during the upcoming legislative session.

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

Supporters of decriminalization say the current manner of prosecuting those possessing pot crowds state prisons and damages young offenders' futures with a criminal record.

"As a practicing attorney, I've seen a significant amount of state dollars spent on prosecuting and incarcerating individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana," Steele said in a statement Tuesday. "We have to ask ourselves if this is the best use of our criminal justice resources.

"It's a matter of priorities, and I believe our focus should be on pursuing, prosecuting and incarcerating people who commit violent crimes, not simply people who make poor personal decisions."


  • It's time
    They'll be opposition of course. The religious right won't like it. And the irony there is that they think God invented the world - which would mean he invented it. If their is a God, I'm sure he/she is laughing about our anti-weed stance. The drug makers of the world won't like it. If they could patent it, it would be legal tomorrow. They are many medicinal uses for this recreational and natural product. Add the tax benefits and it's a no-brainer. But the drug makers will fight this one. They have much to loose for they would rather sell their "legal" drugs.
  • Think about it
    all of this back and forth stuff is absurd. Do the research ;so many things and products can be used from cannabis plant i.e. fabric,fuel,oil,building materials,paper,medicine,not to mention it is THE fastest metabolizing plant known to man(converting co2 into 02) and the oldest to date . It has been used for 3000+yrs And we all know what alcohol and tobacco does to the body. COME ON PEOPLE STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHT TO BE HAPPY Oh, one more thing if it were done correctly it would wipe out the national debt and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.... IN AMERICA
  • Legalize it, tax it
    You are right. We need to tax it and stop spending money to send great numbers to prison for possession of pot.
  • common sense
    We have none...this isn't considered yet we're going to allow a dear shoot near neighborhoods. Actually, that may be Mayberry. End the war on this. Read Willie's new book and move on....
  • 420
    Heck yes, make it legal and tax it. Watch the state get rich and the cartels get poor!! Stop sending people to jail for a year over some harmless pot. Think about all the money the States will save just from not prosecuting petty possession charges! Do the math, it's time.
    • it's time
      we want to be seen as a metrpolitan city but we think like mayberry
    • get a grip.
      This would save millions. http://www.wthr.com/story/19609411/supporters-cite-money-saving-aspects-of-marijuana-law?clienttype=printable
    • its not oregon...
      It is Washington State. Measure 80 on Oregon lost.
    • Good News!
      Common sense goes a long way. Tax and regulate it! Do we want to build more prisons in this state or use that money for schools?

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