2 marijuana bills filed at Statehouse so far, including 1 for partial legalization

In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, photo, a clerk reaches for a container of marijuana buds for a customer at Utopia Gardens, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - One of the strongest proponents for medical marijuana in Indiana hasn't filed his bill yet, but another supporter from the other side of the aisle has put forth two of her own.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, filed two bills Thursday impacting marijuana and cannabis in the state. SB 211 would create the Cannabis Compliance Commission "to regulate all forms of legal cannabis in the state, including industrial hemp and low THC hemp extract."

Her second bill, SB 213, would change possession of marijuana from a Level 6 Felony to a class B misdemeanor. It would also establish a minimum of 2 ounces of marijuana to qualify for a possession charge. Currently, any amount of marijuana could land you with a possession charge.

Estimates of how much marijuana goes into a single joint vary, but averaging one gram per joint, the two ounce limit would still allow you enough to make roughly 55 joints.

Tallian said in a Tuesday press release she intends to file a third bill that would legalize all medical marijuana.

"Since marijuana programs cannot be approved by a ballot initiative, it is up to the legislature to follow the will of the people," Tallian said in the release. "Support for legalizing and taxing cannabis is at an all-time high, and 10 states, as well as Washington, D.C., have already legalized marijuana for recreational use."

WTHR.com reached out to State Sen. Michael Young, who chairs the committee SB 213 will be heard by, but he declined to comment saying he had not yet spoken with Tallian about the bill.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said last year that he planned to file a bill that would legalize medical marijuana, and even traveled to other states where it's already legal so he could check out their operations. As of Friday morning, he had not yet filed a bill but his social media accounts indicate he still plans to. The filing deadline is Thursday, Jan. 10.

Last session, Lucas' medical cannabis bill died in committee and an accompanying measure to legalize industrial hemp failed in the Senate.

Proposals to legalize cannabis in any capacity have been opposed by groups like Drug Free Marion County, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Indiana Hospital Association. They say that legalizing the drug will increase the potential for underage abuse by teenagers and could lead to other types of addiction.

In testimony delivered at a study committee this fall, representatives from each group also called on the state to wait until the drug makes it through the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process, adding that not enough concrete, positive conclusions have been made to start the legalization process.

Our newsgathering partners at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College, contributed to portions of this article.