INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is inching its way toward decriminalizing marijuana but not without resistance.
Compromises will be crucial to move the idea forward.
If you look at the original version of HB1028, you wouldn’t recognize the way it looks now.
“I will remain openminded,” said the bill’s author, Republican State Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour.
Lucas told us he’s willing to compromise just to continue the conversation about decriminalizing marijuana in Indiana.
His bill no longer decriminalizes marijuana possession like he wanted, but it does establish a THC-blood intoxication limit of five nanograms while operating a vehicle.
“This is not a perfect science, nor is it anywhere else. We are in uncharted territories, but this is something we must take up,” said Lucas.
Indiana law enforcement isn’t as sure.
“This is a distinct public safety concern. It actually inhibits our ability to take impaired drivers off the roads, plain and simple,” said Indiana State Police Lt. Brad Hoffeditz.
Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Chris Daniels with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council said this bill is not based on any science.
“States that have adopted give nanograms have picked that number virtually from a hat,” said Daniels.
“You’ve reference the five nanogram limit as being arbitrary,” said Lucas. “I’d throw out blood alcohol content, that number is also arbitrary, but it’s a start.”
Lucas said we can’t criminalize those who may be legally consuming CBD products in Indiana with legal levels of THC or those driving through the state who have consumed it legally elsewhere.
“I’m not a fan of marijuana. I will probably be a person who will never support legalization of marijuana,” explained State Rep. Wendy McNamara, (R) Evansville. “But I also don’t want to put people in jail for something that might have been in their system three weeks ago.”
“When talking about THC and the nanogram limitation, the only safe number is zero,” said Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Executive Director Devon McDonald.
“I will work with those that are in opposition just to see if we can’t come together to compromise,” said Lucas. “But I ask that we get this going on the floor.”
His bill passed a House committee on Tuesday.
There’s a similar bill in the Senate.
That legislation also moved forward during committee.