Officials wary about easing marijuana laws

Having a small amount of marijuana would result in a ticket and fine instead of an arrest and jail time under a proposal at the Statehouse.

Other states recently have legalized marijuana; and while Indiana is not considering legalizing the drug, a state senator is proposing that possessing a few grams of marijuana for personal use should be decriminalized and reduced to an infraction that would be resolved by paying a fine.

Making low-level drug possession into a civil offense instead of a crime could lessen the strain on courts, jails and prisons, said Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, which he said generally supports lesser penalties for nonviolent crimes. Police also could be freed up to focus on more serious crimes, such as home burglaries and sexual assaults, he said.

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