(STATEHOUSE) - As a legislative committee votes today to eventually legalize industrial hemp, a marijuana advocate is wondering what took lawmakers so long and also why they also won't legalize the use of pot.
Neal Smith, chairman of Indiana NORML - the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says Indiana spends 150 million each year locking up pot smokers.
Smith is upset that lawmakers didn't give a hearing to a bill from State Senator Karen Tallian that would have reduced the criminal penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana. He believes there is no reason for Indiana to not follow Colorado, Washington and other states in legalizing pot for medical or personal use.
"It is much safer than alcohol, tobacco or other addictive substances. No one in the history of mankind has died from the use of marijuana," Smith said.
A House committee is scheduled to vote today on a bill that has already passed the Senate which would legalize the growing of industrial hemp if and when the federal government allows it.
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