(AP) — 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.
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.
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.
approved medical marijuana in 16 states and the District of Columbia. They
have eliminated penalties on small amounts of marijuana in 13 other
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.
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
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.
estimated Indiana could raise $44 million a year in sales taxes alone if
it regulated and taxed marijuana.
state Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes successfully pushed lawmakers to
study the issue. She says the state has "draconian" marijuana laws.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would like to wait and see what the panel
finds before taking a position.
lawmakers this year banned the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana,
also called spice.