By Steve Elliott
With the rest of the United States moving toward relaxing the marijuana laws, Indiana seems to be bravely marching into the past. The Hoosier State's penalties for marijuana are getting tougher after Gov. Mike Pence requested -- and got -- stricter laws for low-level cannabis offenders.
The bill, HB 1006, still has at least one committee hearing, then it goes to the full Senate for a vote, Skywolf Neal Smith of Indiana NORML told Hemp News on Wednesday. It could be changed in committee or on the Senate floor; if there are significant changes, it will have to go back through the House for approval of the Senate changes, Smith said.
The increased penalties come as part of an overhaul of Indiana's criminal sentencing laws; possession of anything over about one-third of an ounce of marijuana is now a felony in Indiana. Pence said last week that he believed the bill would "send a message that the state is "tough on drug dealers."
Another part of the new law would require that felons -- which, of course, now include low-level pot possession defendants -- serve at least 75 percent of their sentences, up from the 50 percent or less that inmates might now serve if they earn good time and education credits while in prison.