State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) released the following comments after Interim Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced that Marion County cases involving an individual who was in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would not be prosecuted.

“Dropping these charges is a tremendous step made by Marion County’s interim prosecutor in accomplishing what ultimately needs to be done: decriminalizing possession of marijuana in Indiana. According to the Indiana prosecuting Attorney’s information, there were more than 22,000 arrests for marijuana possession last year. Let’s stop branding our citizens with a criminal record for doing what is increasingly viewed as normal behavior. Why should Hoosiers be punished for something our neighbors and Americans in 33 other states have the freedom to do?

“I have once again begun drafting legislation for the 2020 session to decriminalize possession of marijuana in Indiana. It is past time for our jail cells to be cleared of Hoosiers who have committed no other crime than be in possession of a harmless substance, that actually has real medical benefits. Additionally, we are all too familiar with the fact that there is great racial disparity when it comes to the prosecution of these cases, as African Americans are more likely to serve jail time or pay hefty fines than White people arrested for the same charge. Reforming our marijuana laws is an issue of criminal justice and racial equality.”