Sen. Karen Tallian has proposed a legislative study of the impact of Indiana’s marijuana policies, including costs in the state’s criminal justice system and the potential for regulation and taxation options.
Under Senate Bill 192, the study would provide an assessment of the actual costs to our criminal justice system including the impact on law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing. It would also provide an opportunity for the public to voice their opinions on the state’s current policies and other options for regulating marijuana.
Sen. Tallian says that in light of the state’s budget crisis, we need to make every effort to find more effective ways to save taxpayer dollars.
LISTEN to Sen. Tallian’s comments on the study:
In Indiana, the bill calls for a study and recommendations on:
- Marijuana and its effect on the Indiana criminal justice system.
- Whether the possession and use of marijuana should continue to be illegal in Indiana and, if so, which penalties and amounts pertaining to marijuana possession and use are appropriate.
- Whether a program for medical marijuana should be implemented in Indiana and, if so, under what parameters.
- Whether marijuana should be treated and controlled like alcohol, with controlled and regulated sales, and special taxation.
- Any other issue related to marijuana.
The legislative review would compliment ongoing work to reform sentencing laws, concentrating resources on the most violent criminals and taking a smarter approach to those who commit lesser offenses.
Indiana would not be alone in this effort, but in fact is behind most states in considering alternative policies. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Thirteen states have decriminalized possession of small amounts. Many other states are expected to consider medical marijuana or decriminalization of possession in small amounts this year.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 41% of the public thinks marijuana should be legalized, up from 35% in 2008. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they favor their state allowing the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes if it is prescribed by a doctor.
The legislative review would be conducted later this year by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee, a standing group that meets each interim to study various items assigned by the General Assembly. Sen. Tallian says the request was specifically sent to that committee so that there would be no additional state costs to conduct the study.
What’s Next? SB 192 has a scheduled hearing in the Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee on February 15.