Senate Democrats Announce Proposals to End Jail Time for Marijuana Possession

(INDIANAPOLIS) – On Thursday, members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus announced their plans to address Indiana’s marijuana laws. Senate Democratic Chair Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) presented two proposals aimed at limiting the number of individuals arrested for possession of marijuana.

Senate Democratic Chair Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes)

Sen. Tallian’s proposal, Senate Bill (SB) 114, would reduce the penalty for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to an infraction for a first offense.

“We are well behind the times in the State of Indiana when it comes to cannabis,” Sen. Tallian said. “It’s time to allow debate and public input on this matter, and it is time we catch up with our neighbors. In 2018 and 2019, there were over 22,000 arrests yearly for possession of small amounts of marijuana. There is no justification for this.”

State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis)

The second proposal, SB 86, authored by Sen. Taylor, provides a defense for the possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, as long as the person has an authorized prescription for medical marijuana or has been certified by a physician for treatment with marijuana. Sen. Taylor also disclosed his disapproval of SB 436, authored by Sen. Mike Young. SB 436 would give the Indiana Attorney General the power to prosecute marijuana cases in counties where local prosecutors have chosen not to prosecute such cases.

“Our marijuana laws are unjust, ineffective and outdated, and states and cities across the nation are increasingly coming to this conclusion,” Sen. Taylor said. “It’s time Indiana did the same. My bill would ensure that individuals with valid medicinal marijuana cards from other states are not thrown in jail here.

“The Marion County prosecutor’s decision to no longer prosecute small marijuana possession offenses in Indianapolis was a great step forward, and we need to lean into that, instead of reversing course. That’s why I’m calling on Hoosiers to step up and express their discontent for SB 436, and show their support for Senate Democratic bills that aim to move Indiana forward on the topic of cannabis.”

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee is scheduled to hear SB 436 on Tuesday, January 28. The two Senate Democratic marijuana bills were assigned to the same committee but have not been scheduled for hearings. Tuesday’s committee hearing is the final opportunity to hear Senate bills in Corrections.