State lawmakers shelve marijuana decriminalization issue


A move to cut the punishment for smoking marijuana in Indiana is on hold.

Smoke pot and face jail time. Does the punishment fit the crime?

That's a question supporters of decriminalizing marijuana have been asking. Now, a move to cut the punishment for smoking marijuana in Indiana is on hold.

"Get ready for 2014. Make your best case," said Republican State Senator Mike Young, speaking as the chairman of the state's Corrections and Criminal Law Committee.

That's the message Young had for Hoosier lawmakers who support decriminalizing pot.

"I'm not going to take on an issue that's of vital of importance like this that could effect our public safety and which does effect our public safety without having all the information on both sides of this issue," said Young.

A recent proposal by Democratic State Senator Karen Tallian would mean you'd only get a ticket if caught with two ounces or less of marijuana, instead of facing possible jail time.

Some high-ranking Hoosiers have said they're not necessarily against it.

Last fall, now-former Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell publicly stated he would legalize marijuana and tax it. Following those statements, the Indiana State Police said Whitesell was speaking philosophically to the state's budget committee.

A Howey-DePauw Poll conducted last November found that 54 percent of Hoosiers were "in favor" or "strongly favored" decriminalizing marijuana, while 37 percent were "opposed" or "strongly opposed" doing that.

Indiana certainly wouldn't be the first the state to take up the marijuana issue. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have recently legalized marijuana, while 18 others permit the use of medical marijuana.