As a summer poll shows more Americans smoke marijuana than cigarettes, its future, use and legalization in Indiana continues to be debated.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne police had seen the gold Cadillac parked at the Economy Inn on West Coliseum on many occasions. It had an old, faded temporary tag from an unknown state with duct tape, rendering it unreadable.

So when Fort Wayne officers saw the gold Cadillac pull out of the inn on Dec. 20 just after midnight, they followed it to the Shell station west of Goshen Avenue. The car still didn’t have a license plate, officers noted, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Clinton Alexander Bahr, 41, stepped out of the car and admitted he’d never had a driver’s license but used to have a learner’s permit out of Colorado and had ID cards from Indiana and Michigan.

The gold Cadillac was searched and a little more than 1,000 grams of marijuana– about 36 ounces – was found in 19 different bags, some with the Meijer and Walmart logo. The packaged marijuana weight ranged from 3.9 grams to 110.3 grams, many of the packages in ziplock-style gallon bags.

Bahr was being held at the Allen County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond after being charged with marijuana dealing.

State and county marijuana statistics

According to state statistics compiled by the Indiana State Police, Bahr is the 39th person this year to get arrested in Allen County on this charge.

This year, 2,192 people were arrested in Allen County for drugs, 31.4% of all arrests. About 29% of all drug arrests were for marijuana:

ChargeNumberPercent
Dealing marijuana386%
Hash oil 4.6%
Possession61195.8%
2022 Allen County marijuana arrests

The numbers are slightly lower than the previous year. In 2021, there were 2,522 people arrested for drugs of which 30.4%  were marijuana-related:

ChargeNumberPercent
Dealing marijuana567.3%
Hash oil81%
Possession74096.5%
2021 Allen County marijuana arrests

In Indiana, about 36% of all arrests were for drugs, 38,069 people this year, the stats say.

21 states have legalized weed, 39 medical marijuana

Indiana may not be on the verge of legalizing marijuana, as 21 other states have, and is losing out, according to Jack Cain, secretary for Indiana NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). The number of states with medical marijuana will be at 39 with Kentucky coming on board, Cain added.

“How much time and energy and police resources were used to track down this guy?” Cain asked Tuesday. “How much will it cost the county to continue to prosecute him and all that. Prohibition of alcohol didn’t work. Why do people continue to have prohibition of marijuana? It’s a proven loser.”

States where marijuana is legal are benefiting from the revenue of marijuana sales, Cain said, and in Michigan, a portion of the revenues have been given to municipalities to improve infrastructure or whatsoever they choose.

“How much money could Fort Wayne generate for whatever – school improvements, roads, social programs?” Cain said. Michigan and Illinois have legalized marijuana, Ohio has allowed medical marijuana and, soon Kentucky will have medical marijuana.

The Hoosier state legislature seems open to it, Cain continued, after it conducted a hearing in September.

“Businesses in Indiana – growers and processors are abundant. Indiana needs to change its laws pretty quickly or we’re going to be left behind,” Cain said.

Hemp is the plant. It is cannabis when bred for a high content of THC, the psychoactive component. It stays in the hemp category when the THC content is low, fiber is high, and can be used for thousands of products, Cain said.

Opposition from state prosecutors

While the state appears to be debating the issue, one entity is firmly opposed to legalization. A statement from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Association obtained by WANE 15 maintains that marijuana use increases the risk of opioid use, is not medicine and the drug’s legalization “has had devastating effects in other states.”

Last year, Governor Eric Holcomb (R) reiterated his opposition to legalizing marijuana in Indiana while it remains illegal at a federal level. He would like both Purdue University and Indiana University to study the medicinal benefits it might offer.

More recently the governor seemed open to medical marijuana. He also suggested low-level marijuana offenses “should not serve as a life sentence after an individual has served their time.”

More than eight in 10 Hoosiers reportedly stated to be in favor of recreational or medical legalization of marijuana.