Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Columns

February 26, 2013

Hayden: Indiana criminal code fix and pot

Marijuana still a part of Statehouse sentencing reform

— In the flurry of activity at the Statehouse in recent weeks, I missed reporting some sad news for stoners: The legislation to decriminalize marijuana is dead.

State Sen. Karen Tallian’s bill to make possession of 2 ounces of marijuana into an infraction, like a speeding ticket, died when it didn’t get a hearing in the Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law before a critical deadline passed.

Tallian’s response was anything but mellow. The Democratic grandmother from Ogden Dunes told Dan Carden, a reporter for The Times of Northwest Indiana: “I don’t understand why they refused to even hear it. We have certainly heard some really idiotic bills in that committee.”

Setting aside the question of idiocy in the General Assembly, here’s news that may hearten those who’ve been following the pot debate: Legislation that would roll back Indiana’s marijuana laws — some of the toughest in the nation — is still very much alive.

Tucked inside a 400-plus page bill to overhaul Indiana’s criminal code is language that would turn most felony-level marijuana crimes into mere misdemeanors. It puts an end to the reefer madness of a past General Assembly that made possession of marijuana a felony, if you’d been caught once before or had more than 1 ounce.  

So it would still be a crime to get caught with cannabis, but no longer a crime that could land you in prison or make you automatically lose your driver’s license.

The four co-authors of the criminal code reform bill make for an interesting alliance. The two conservative Republican authors are Hendricks County lawyer Greg Steuerwald and former deputy prosecutor Jud McMillin of Brookville. The two liberal Democratic authors are Bloomington lawyer Matt Pierce and retired Hammond police officer Linda Lawson.

They all had a role to play in crafting a bill that’s been several years in the making and has won strong bipartisan support. Together last week to talk about it, none of the co-authors said the word “marijuana”, though I think they should have if they wanted to get good media coverage.

As Time magazine reported last week, “pot is having a political moment” as the push to lessen penalties for marijuana has moved from the margins to mainstream.

Tallian’s bill was a pipe dream — no way is this General Assembly ready to join the 14 states that have decriminalized possession (or the handful of other states that have started down that path).

But it wasn’t without some hope: Late last year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brent Steele — a rock-ribbed, law-and-order guy if there ever was one — came out in support of Tallian’s proposal. He likened Indiana’s marijuana laws to “smashing an ant with a sledgehammer.”

Steele backed off after he decided the idea wasn’t politically palatable to his conservative colleagues — at least not yet.

Remember that committee chairman who wouldn’t give Tallian’s bill a hearing? He’s promised Tallian that he’ll research the issue before next year’s session. Maybe that’s a sign that decriminalization isn’t dead, just dormant.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Hicks: Measuring the unmeasurable

    One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things that humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives it such dominance over other social sciences.

    April 17, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership'

    On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than two dozen world leaders” painted by Bush, according to the official literature.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study

    I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

    The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
    That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.

    April 15, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S

    April 14, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Such a thing as too much My wife and I went on a binge last week. If you think I'm talking about an eating binge, you've never seen how thin we both are. If you think I mean a shopping binge, you don't know how cheap we are. And if you think it was a cleaning binge, you've n

    April 14, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Chewing over news in bite-size vignettes Today, I am going to share a few "opinionettes" about current news items. Ready? Let's go! City prosperity The unemployment rate in the United States is down to 6.7 percent. This is its lowest level since October 2008. When I remember government effo

    April 13, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Finding measure of value One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives

    April 13, 2014

  • PUBLIC EYE: Right across the county line

    Grant County has wind problems, and as an editor recently and quite rightly noted, “Wind doesn’t care about county lines.”

    So Grant County’s issues over a proposed E.ON Climate & Renewables wind farm are becoming Howard County’s issues as well.

    April 13, 2014

  • RAY DAY: My wife and life, Ramona Today, I will tell you a story about my soul mate and wife, who has been with me for more than 57 years now. Time has gone by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday when we met. Her name is Ramona; I call her Moni for short. Her friends call her Ra

    April 12, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller