It’s understandable if you’re a little confused by Marion County’s new marijuana policy. Generally, you just need to know if certain things are legal or illegal. But the new policy adds another whole dimension.
Since September 30, Marion County has said it won’t bring criminal charges against people caught with less than an ounce of marijuana. This doesn’t make the drug legal. It remains illegal per state law. The policy merely reflects the county’s decision to focus on other crimes. And as the Indy Star notes, the policy does not apply outside of Marion County.
Some things change, and some do not
It’s important to understand that the policy does not reflect a change to the law. It’s just a change to how the county plans to enforce it. Among other things, that means:
- The policy does not provide you any new rights
- It’s still a crime to possess, use or distribute marijuana
- You can still be arrested for having marijuana
- The policy does not excuse anyone charged with driving under the influence
- The county still plans to charge anyone with quantities that suggest they might be selling the drug
- The policy does not qualify anyone for the early expungement of past convictions
- This policy only applies within the borders of Marion County
Even if you live in Marion County, you can still be arrested and charged for marijuana possession in a neighboring county.
The winds can change again
It’s important to remember that the policy can change. The law already supports possession charges, and the Marion County prosecutor could reverse the current policy at any time.
For now, a reversal doesn’t seem too likely. In fact, as Forbes notes, states like Indiana are struggling to process marijuana charges in the face of legal hemp use.
Still, until state lawmakers change the rules, marijuana remains illegal. Marion County’s policy should not be confused with a change to the law. It only means there should be fewer people needing to weigh their options in the face of minor possession charges.
At Kammen & Moudy, our attorneys know how damaging a drug conviction can be. Even a minor possession charge can bring lasting consequences. That’s why we question every part of the prosecution’s case and help our clients find the best possible response. Marion County’s new policy may lead to fewer possession charges, but for anyone arrested, there’s no substitute for a strong defense.