Indiana panel to consider proposal to legalize marijuana
Every state counts, every voice counts. Just not to the federal government. -UA
Jul. 27 courier-journal.com
The committee — which includes lawmakers and criminal justice officials — will look at decriminalizing medical marijuana, legalizing small amounts for recreational use, and adding taxes to the sale of marijuana-like alcohol.
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, proposed the study during the legislative session this year, saying that decriminalizing marijuana would help law enforcement officers focus on more serious criminals.
The possession of marijuana of any kind is currently a crime in Indiana. But in 14 states, pot has been decriminalized, meaning there are no criminal charges for possessing a small amount of the drug. Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states.
Jim Noffsinger of Indiana’s Students Against Destructive Decisions opposes legalization in the state. He said that studies have proved that legalizing marijuana leads to an increase in usage among young people.
“People think that it would solve problems,” he said. “It would actually increase the problems.”
Noffsinger said it would lead to an increase in tragedies resulting in medical bills and traffic violations.
“It would make it worse. I am convinced that would be the case,” Noffsinger said.
But Morgan Fox of The Marijuana Policy Project said that legalizing marijuana in Indiana could help save the state money because Indiana would not have to pay for enforcement of marijuana laws.
“There’s so many negative effects of the illegalization of marijuana, including the blatant disrespect for the law,” Fox said.
Fox said that if marijuana was regulated, more than 1,000 jobs could be produced in the marijuana market.
Fox also said that statistics have shown that marijuana has caused an overdose death and there are no long-term health problems due to using the drug.
“Alcohol overshadows marijuana greatly,” Fox said.
Noffsinger said that he would support legalizing medical marijuana if there is significant proof that it helps, but he said he thinks it would be difficult to enforce its use only for those purposes.