Bedford Senator Pushes For Decriminalization Of Marijuana

Senator Brent Steele wants to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana as a part of a criminal sentencing overhaul.

marijuana

Photo: North Cascades National Park

A marijuana plant was discovered in the North Cascades National Park during a drug raid.

A Republican state lawmaker plans to push for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana, as a part of a comprehensive criminal sentencing overhaul.

Under Indiana law, marijuana possession, under 30 grams, is a Class A misdemeanor that can carry up to a year of jail time. Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) wants to make possession of less than 10 grams a civil infraction, subject to a fine. Steele says his proposal is about using law enforcement resources wisely.

“I don’t think mere possession is worth all the thousands of dollars that we will invest in the prosecution, usually a public defender and then, if there is a conviction, all the probation that goes on,” he says.

Steele says his legislation will not affect any public intoxication or driving while intoxicated provisions of Indiana law. He hopes his proposal can be a part of a massive overhaul of Indiana’s criminal code that lawmakers have been working on a for years. The process is finally gaining some momentum. Legislation expected next session with Steele as the Senate version’s sponsor.

Bloomington Democratic Representative Matt Pierce is a member of the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, which is responsible for the sentencing reform package.  He says he would prefer Steele’s proposal be a part of the package rather than a stand-alone bill.

“We’ve kind of gotten the code really messed up because we’ve done a lot of things a little at a time over the last 30 years, so if we can’t get focused in on kind of the bigger picture, then we’re going to have a problem,” he says.

Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport), who is also a member of the commission, says Steele does not have his support.

“You know, we’ve criminalized smoking cigarettes with tobacco in them and know the initiative would be to decriminalize smoking marijuana and to me, those two things seem inconsistent,” Head says.

Head says he is not sure he could vote for the reform package if it includes Steele’s language.

“At this point I don’t know,” he says. “I’d be more inclined to try to fight the proposal and keep it from going in just so I don’t have to ask myself that question later.”

Head says he believe the penalties for marijuana possession are appropriate and does not see a problem that needs correcting.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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  • Bob

    You know Randy, you didn’t criminalize cigarettes you idiot. And good policy, just hope the law doesn’t come up so you don’t have to wrap your tiny brain around it. Please don’t reelect this degenerate

  • necromancini

    Legalize and tax. Make money instead of spending it on failed policy. We need reform; barring that, we must resort to revolution.

  • greeneyes

    i will be shocked if Indiana would finally get a brain to make more money and create more jobs by legalizing marijuana. I’m not going to go on and on about what good it would be to legalize but Indiana’s law enforcement is the one to blame for them not legalizing. they wouldn’t be able to make all their money through the judicial system as they are doing right now.

  • http://twitter.com/liamecaps Liam

    Right on Brent Steele, you’ve got my vote. I want my taxes directed towards preventing violent criminals, fixing our roads, paying our teachers, public transit. You know, things that build society, not tear it down. Thank you Brent. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/red.murray.56 Red Murray

    These legislators need to pass a bong around and then decide.

  • the NORML guy

    this is stupid to even argue about would you rather take oxycottin everyday, which is like a pilled form of herione, or smoke a joint? i self medicate myself with marijuana and im 16 if i can use self control to medicate myself im sure adults can handle it. when i say self medicate i dont mean i smoke 7 grams a day, i smoke because i have anxiety and i was addicted to xanax and its seriously the hardest thing ive ever done, quiting xanax, addiction runs in my family and because of that i try to stay away from narcotics and other addicting medicine, that being said i do take hydrocodone when and if prescribed by a doctor. i know that this isnt about medical marijuana, but i seriously think that it should be brought up in this, i live in indiana and i live in a rural area west of indy, one of the biggest problems with drugs we get out here is from prescription drug abuse, i have seen many people die and destroy their lives because of a pill. Most addicting drugs can be swapped out for medical marijuana, pain relievers, and anxiety reducers are some of the biggest problems we have out here and id rather people be on medical marijuana than these drugs

  • http://twitter.com/420MEDsmoker 420 Med Smoker

    Brent Steele sounds like a freedom loving Republican with gutts like myself! Let’s get this guy elected to Statewide office ASAP!

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