MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — State lawmakers will soon begin
studying whether Indiana should amend its drug laws to decriminalize
marijuana, create a medical marijuana program or make other changes.
The Post-Tribune of Merrillville reports that the General
Assembly’s criminal law and sentencing policy study committee will examine
different angles of the marijuana issue. The committee’s first meeting is
next week, though it’s not clear whether marijuana laws will be discussed
then or during future meetings.
State Sen. Karen Tallian, D- Ogden Dunes, pushed for the
study committee and says Indiana has “draconian” marijuana laws.
“One day, I watched three young kids plead cases on
possession of small amounts,” Tallian said. “I thought, ‘Why are we spending
all of the time and money to do this?’ Frankly, I put marijuana in the same
category as alcohol.”
Medical marijuana is available in 16 states and the District
of Columbia, and 13 states have eliminated certain penalties for small
amounts of marijuana.
Tallian said she hopes to arrange for people to speak at the
meeting when the marijuana study is on the agenda.
“I’ve got testimony from all different groups,” she said.
“They keep calling me wondering when it’s going to be. I had them lined up
when the bill was in the senate — medical people, criminal defense
attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement. There are a wide range of people
interested in the topic.”
Among the state lawmakers who supported the idea of creating
a study committee to examine the issue was Republican Rep. Tom Knollman of
Liberty, who has multiple sclerosis. Knollman told lawmakers during the
legislative session this year that he wished he could legally try the drug
to relieve his pain.
Knollman said at the time that he’s among the most
conservative of state legislators, but hopes he can be a law-abiding citizen
and use one of God’s plants.