The Legalities of Weed in Indiana


By Jessica M. Hancock

Indiana is known for a lot of great things – the Indy 500, the largest sporting event in the world; being host to the headquarters for national and international organizations such as the NCAA, Eli Lilly, and Then there are the world-class educational institutions in Purdue, Notre Dame, and Indiana University, several well-decorated sports teams in the Indianapolis Colts football and Indianapolis Pacers basketball teams, and quite a few obscure but nonetheless cool, attributes like our abundance of corn and the fact Indiana produces more popcorn than any other state in the US. 

One thing we are not known for is marijuana and there are some very antiquated rules and stiff penalties to blame. Indiana is one of the strictest states in the US for marijuana. 

Recreational use of weed in any form is illegal and anyone caught possessing even small amounts (as little as 30 grams or a single joint) faces a Class A misdemeanor with up to one year of prison and a fine of $5,000 USD. Anyone found with more than 30 grams faces a Class D felony which carries a prison sentence of 6 months to 2.5 years and a $10,000 USD fine. Selling or growing more than 10 pounds of marijuana can result in 2-8 years in prison and a $10,000 USD fine.

Patients and advocates of medical marijuana in Indiana rejoiced (a bit) back in March 2018 when the legislation went into effect that allowed anyone to buy, sell and possess CBD oil without any penalty so long as it meets certain labeling requirements and contains less than 0.3% THC. In September 2019, there was a bit more to celebrate as Indiana made a small advance by decriminalizing the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, but as of 2021, the state is way behind in policy reform as compared to its Midwestern neighbors. 

Ohio has a comprehensive medical marijuana program and is in the process of decriminalizing or significantly reducing the severity of punishment for the possession of weed in certain amounts. Michigan and Illinois have fully legalized marijuana for adults’ use. Indiana legislators had an opportunity to reform its outdated cannabis laws during the 2021 session, however, none of the bills that would have legalized and regulated weed for adults received a hearing before their respective legislative deadlines and as a result, no changes can be considered again until 2022.

Now that it is legal for farmers in Indiana to get licensed and grow hemp on an industrial scale, the need to affect change in the laws surrounding marijuana is more pressing to avoid hypocrisy and the development of a double standard. 

Several public policies and consumer advocacy groups are continuously pushing the public to ask their state legislators to support “a compassionate, comprehensive medical cannabis program” and to let lawmakers know that it is time to stop arresting marijuana consumers and advocating for changing the penalty for possession from possible jail time to a civil fine. 

Indiana has an opportunity to lead the push in the Midwest to legalize and tax the manufacture of hemp and enable the distribution and possession of cannabis to support Hoosier interests statewide. Now is the time to provide real-world oversight of marijuana in all its forms for the casual use and medicinal benefits for adults.

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