Indianapolis police, as well as the rest of Marion County, have shifted their attention elsewhere. Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced that effective immediately, police will no longer be focused on arresting individuals for minor marijuana possession. Instead, they will be focused on higher-level crimes, citing marijuana possession isn’t a violent crime. This initiative is also helping people of color escape the unfair judicial system they are often subjected to.
“Too often, an arrest for marijuana possession puts individuals into the system who otherwise would not be. That is not a win for our community,” Mears said. “The enforcement of marijuana policy has disproportionately impacted people of color, and this is a first step to addressing that.”
Indiana itself still holds marijuana as an illegal drug and will prosecute anyone outside of Marion County accordingly. It is still illegal to consume marijuana publicly in Indianapolis, and no one under the age of 18 is allowed any possession. However, cannabis users will no longer have to worry about being prosecuted for the possession of marijuana.
Not Legal Yet
This is not to say cannabis users are completely safe. Police can still arrest anyone in Indianapolis if they possess marijuana. For example, driving under the influence or cultivating marijuana is still considered a criminal activity. Possession of over an ounce of marijuana will result in criminal prosecution.
Outside of Marion County, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana will be considered a level B misdemeanor, resulting in 180 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. If you are arrested for a different reason within Marion County, and the police discover marijuana in your possession, they have the right to confiscate the drug.
There is more good news to come from this announcement though. Indianapolis police department will begin reviewing over 400 previous cases of marijuana possession and start the process of expunging the convictions from hundreds of non-violent criminals.
Indiana isn’t the first state to do this. Earlier this year, New York began expunging thousands of convictions for people who were arrested for only marijuana possession. People in Indianapolis can now apply to have these arrests expunged from their records if they believe they qualify.
“Just because you are arrested on B misdemeanor possession of marijuana does not mean you are going to be a murderer or a robber,” Mears said.
This is just a small step for Indiana to become the next state to legalize marijuana. Currently, CBD is the only cannabis product that is used for medical treatment. The state doesn’t allow any type of possession of marijuana, but this new initiative speaks volumes on the direction the state is heading.