Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

June 21, 2013

Report shows racial disparities in marijuana arrests

(Continued)

The ACLU report calls for states like Indiana to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession, or to outright legalize it, while taxing and regulating it like alcohol and cigarettes.

That’s not a step Indiana legislators seem willing to take, but there has been considerable debate on the issue.

Last November, the head of the Indiana State Police told a state budget committee that he personally favors legalizing marijuana so it can be regulated and taxed. In December, the powerful conservative Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Brent Steele of Bedford, came out in support of Tallian’s proposal to turn possession of small amounts of marijuana into an infraction, like a speeding ticket.

By January, the Republican authors of a massive criminal code reform bill proposed reducing all marijuana possession penalties to misdemeanors.

But the debate came to a halt when Republican Gov. Mike Pence threatened to veto any measure that significantly reduced pot penalties.

Tallian said she isn’t giving up and may introduce a bill to legalize marijuana possession for recreational use, following in the footsteps of several states.

“I’m going to keep pushing this conversation,” Tallian said. “If I have to keep pushing it until we get a new governor, I will.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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