Indiana is one of the remaining few states taking a last stand against medical marijuana. Situated beside two big weed states, Michigan and Illinois, the Hoosier state is still stubbornly holding out, allowing only the use of CBD with less than 0.3% THC. It also banned smokable hemp under Act 516 just one year after the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp with under 0.3% THC. Lawmakers reasoned that it would give the police a difficult time distinguishing hemp from marijuana.
Marijuana activists say that the biggest obstacle for marijuana reform in Indiana is its current governor, Eric Holcomb who adamantly said that he will not support marijuana until the federal government legalizes it. However, not everything is hinged on the governor. William Henry, chairman of the Indiana chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (INORMAL), said that the state’s legislature has the power to override the governor. Henry continued that Indiana legislators can choose to truly represent what Hoosiers want, which is to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. Polls in 2019 by INORMAL, Sen. Karen Tallian, and state legislators all showed similar results: up to 90% of Indiana residents support medical marijuana and around 80% approve of its recreational use.
Sen. Tallian pushes for legalization
Sen. Tallian, a leading marijuana advocate, says that Indiana has been putting off discussion on legalization even though other states had already been falling in line in recent years and she hopes that Indiana doesn’t come in last. While the penalties for simple possession have recently been reduced, there are no efforts at present to pass a legalization proposal in the state. Furthermore, the disruption caused by the Covid outbreak will make it unlikely for such a law to get approved within the next two years. However, Tallian had been pushing for decriminalization of small amounts since 2019 and also the creation of a Cannabis Compliance Commission to oversee the legal production of industrial hemp and CBD. The senator also recently filed S.B. 87 which aims to establish a cannabis compliance commission that would regulate marijuana in the state, including industrial hemp and low THC extracts and S.B. 223 that would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces.
Overview of Indiana Marijuana Laws
Indiana marijuana laws are very clear: everything except CBD with THC content under 0.3% is illegal. However, first-time offenders may be able to get a conditional discharge.
- Possession – Possession of under 30 grams automatically gets a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a maximum fine of $1000. However, if the offender has a prior drug offense, or if the marijuana is packaged to appear as low THC hemp extract, the charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5000. Those with a prior drug conviction caught with at least 30 grams will be charged with a Level 6 felony. This is punishable by a jail sentence of 6 months to 2 ½ years, with the advisory sentence being 1 year and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Sale – The sale of less than 30 grams is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Subsequent offenses or the sale of more 30 grams become a Level 6 felony.
- The sale of 10 pounds or more is a level 5 felony punishable by a jail sentence of 1 to 6 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. The sale of any amount to a minor gets the same penalty.
- Cultivation – If you are caught growing marijuana for personal use only, the penalties are the same as those for possession. However, charges become more serious if intent to manufacture, finance, or deliver can be proven and the offense will be the same as those for selling marijuana.
History of Marijuana in Indiana
Not much has changed in terms of marijuana reform in Indiana after it got banned early in the state in 1913. Prior to its banning, cannabis was being prescribed as medication for conditions like migraines, cramps, colds, and even mental illnesses and sexual problems. Hemp farming was also alive and well even through WW2.
After the height of the federal government’s War on Drugs, it took until 2013 before marijuana advocates made a significant push to change Indiana’s harsh and antiquated cannabis laws. However, Senate Bill 580, which would have decriminalized possession of up to two ounces, was shot down in committee.
Nevertheless, a small victory followed soon after when House Bill 1006 dropped possession charges from felony down to a misdemeanor. Around this time, polls and reports suggested that the majority of Hoosiers were already in favor of marijuana. But weed was not having any luck with the state’s last two governors who were Republican and staunchly anti-marijuana. Ex-governor Mike Pence, who opposed the decriminalization bill in 2013, was also highly critical of HB 1006. Likewise, incumbent governor Eric Holcomb vowed that he would oppose legalization until marijuana becomes federally legal. However, Holcomb did allow legislation legalizing CBD in 2017 and 2018.
Indiana’s marijuana reform does have lawmakers like Sen. Karen Tallian and Rep. Sue Errington on its side. In 2015, Tallian introduced Senate Bill 284 while Errington, House Bill 1487. The bills sought to have medical marijuana legalized, but the Democratic lawmakers were fighting an uphill battle in a Republican-controlled legislature and thus, no pro-marijuana bills have prospered to date.
Marijuana home cultivation laws outside of Indiana
How do Indiana marijuana laws compare with those in other US states? Check out our post on Marijuana Growing Laws in the United States.
FAQs about marijuana legalization in Indiana
No, adult-use cannabis is still illegal in Indiana.
None. Home cultivation of recreational cannabis is not allowed in Indiana.
No, medical marijuana is still illegal in Indiana. Only CBD with less than 0.3% THC is allowed in the state.
None. Home cultivation of medical cannabis is not allowed in Indiana.
It has been reported that around 9 pro-marijuana bills had already been introduced this year but the current governor is adamantly opposing such efforts. Nevertheless, lawmakers such as Sen. Karen Tallian and Rep. Jim Lucas are continuously working to push marijuana reform in the state.
Residents are not allowed to cultivate marijuana, whether recreational or medical, at home in Indiana.
Growing marijuana in Indiana is strictly illegal for residents of all ages.
Even though polls suggest that Indiana residents are in favor of legalization, there is a high likelihood that pro-weed legislation will fail under conservative Republican leadership. Furthermore, any marijuana legalization proposals probably won’t be a priority during the pandemic. However, if other counties will follow Marion County’s move to decriminalize one ounce or less, it could start a trend that can make Indiana lawmakers rethink medical marijuana within the next few years.