The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Cops, courts and fires

June 20, 2013

Report shows racial disparities in marijuana arrests


The ACLU report calls for states like Indiana to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession, or to outright legalize it, while taxing and regulating it like alcohol and cigarettes.

That’s not a step Indiana legislators seem willing to take, but there has been considerable debate on the issue.

Last November, the head of the Indiana State Police told a state budget committee that he personally favors legalizing marijuana so it can be regulated and taxed. In December, the powerful conservative Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Brent Steele of Bedford, came out in support of Tallian’s proposal to turn possession of small amounts of marijuana into an infraction, like a speeding ticket.

By January, the Republican authors of a massive criminal code reform bill proposed reducing all marijuana possession penalties to misdemeanors.

But the debate came to a halt when Republican Gov. Mike Pence threatened to veto any measure that significantly reduced pot penalties.

Tallian said she isn’t giving up and may introduce a bill to legalize marijuana possession for recreational use, following in the footsteps of several states.

“I’m going to keep pushing this conversation,” Tallian said. “If I have to keep pushing it until we get a new governor, I will.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at

A report issued in early June by the American Civil Liberties Union shows the following statistics (rates are per 100,000 population) for black suspects and white suspects arrested on suspicion of marijuana-related violations in Madison County from 2005 through 2010: Year Black arrests (rate) White arrests (rate) 2005 56 (516) 216 (184) 2006 83 (757) 331 (282) 2007 64 (587) 139 (118) 2008 155 (1,408) 299 (254) 2009 98 (891) 217 (184) 2010 69 (620) 207 (176)

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