Indiana Officials’ Comments On Marijuana Spur Debate

A political analyst says recent statements from Indiana officials indicates more are warming to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana.

smoking marijuana

Photo: Chuck Grimmet (Flickr)

Indiana officials will likely wait to see what the outcomes are in other states that have recently legalized marijuana, a political analyst says.

In the wake of the Indiana State Police chief’s comments appearing to support marijuana legalization, a political analyst says a shift in the state’s marijuana policy could be moving from theory to fact.

Asked during a state budget committee hearing his stance on decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana possession, State Police Chief Paul Whitesell said he thought the drug should be legalized and taxed. Later, the State Police issued a statement distancing itself from Whitesell’s comments, saying the chief simply understands the theoretical arguments.

But earlier this year, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Brent Steele proposed making possession of less than ten grams of marijuana a civil infraction, with those in possession subject only to a fine. Steele argues the state should spend its resources more wisely on addressing violent crimes.

Indiana University political scientist Edward Carmines says the fiscal argument is how the marijuana decriminalization issue can make it past the ideology stage.

“What is exactly the tradeoff in terms of reasonable laws that prohibit drug use versus does it really make sense to expend a lot of resources on trying to prevent modest amounts of marijuana use,” he says.

Carmines says it is possible, maybe even likely, Indiana will wait to see how other states proceed before acting but concedes the push has more momentum than ever before.

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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