State Sen. Karen Tallian has again introduced a comprehensive marijuana reform package into the General Assembly, aimed at addressing “problems” with Indiana’s cannabis laws.

The Ogden Dunes Democrat’s first bill “reverses a misstep by last session’s Senate Enrolled Act 516, which made smokable hemp illegal,” she said. The second creates a regulatory agency for cannabis-related products; and third decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Indiana has to address its outdated and confusing cannabis laws,” Tallian said. “This legislature has been afraid to confront the entire cannabis question and takes every opportunity to stop debate. We need to move to the next level.”

Indiana’s current hemp laws “are a mess,” Tallian said. “SEA 516 made hemp a legal crop in Indiana but in the same stroke, also made all hemp illegal if it can be smoked.

“Remember, too, that ‘smokable hemp’ was already legal in Indiana from our previously enacted CBD law. A federal judge ordered our state to stop enforcing this legislation. What does my bill do? It cleans up this hemp mess.”

The second bill “fulfills the need to protect Hoosier consumers by creating a cannabis compliance commission,” Tallian said.

“Indiana businesses require a license to grow hemp and process it into oil, but there’s no one in charge. CBD products should be labeled, but there is no one doing the testing for ingredients and safety. This is a consumer protection issue that Indiana must address, and my bill will do just that with the commission it creates.”

“The third bill is part of the Senate Democrats’ 2020 priorities, Tallian said.

“My bill decriminalizes the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. We all know the governor does not want to legalize marijuana, but there is no longer any justification for arresting people for possession.

“Even some prosecutors [Marion County and possibly Lake County] are acknowledging that. I am hopeful that decriminalization is something the whole legislature can finally get behind this year.”

While Tallian admitted “there are still mixed feelings for legalization” in Indiana, she said, “I think most can agree we shouldn’t just be throwing people in jail for small possession charges.”

The changes are especially appropriate since Michigan and Illinois have made recreational use of marijuana legal, and Ohio is legalizing medical marijuana, according to Tallian.

“Indiana is surrounded by legal marijuana in our neighboring states,” she said. “Makes sense to at least decriminalize it here.”

The 2020 legislative session begins Jan. 6.

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