Legislators in the state of Indiana are primed to begin their study of whether their state should create a medical marijuana program, decriminalize marijuana in general, or make other cannabis-related changes to existing state law.
According to a report in the Merrillville Post-Tribune, the Indiana General Assembly’s criminal law and sentencing policy study committee will be meeting for the first time next week, and while they will be examining the marijuana issue from many perspectives, it’s not certain that the topic will come up in that meeting, or if it will be addressed later in this legislative session.
State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) has been pushing for the study committee to look at this issue. She has described existing marijuana laws in her state as “draconian.”
“One day,” Tallian recounted, “I watched three young kids plead cases on possession of small amounts,” Tallian said. “I thought, ‘Why are we spending all of the time and money to do this?’ Frankly, I put marijuana in the same category as alcohol.”
Tallian also said that she wants to arrange for speakers to address the study committee, once marijuana is on the agenda. “I’ve got testimony from all different groups,” she explained. “They keep calling me wondering when it’s going to be. I had them lined up when the bill was in the senate — medical people, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement. There are a wide range of people interested in the topic.”
Also among the state lawmakers who support the study committee is Representative Tom Knollman (R-Liberty), who has multiple sclerosis. During the legislative session this year, Knollman told his colleagues that he wished he was able to use marijuana to relieve his pain without breaking the law.
At the time, Knollman pointed out that he was one of Indiana’s most conservative state legislators, but that he still hopes he can be a law-abiding citizen and use one of “God’s plants.”