The legal outlook for marijuana possession has changed rapidly over the past dozen years. Nearly half the states and multiple territories have legalized recreational marijuana use. Even in some states where marijuana remains illegal, local jurisdictions have essentially decriminalized it by refusing to prosecute possession cases involving small quantities.
Marijuana — also known as cannabis — remains illegal under federal law, but the federal government has started to loosen its stance on the issue. In 2022, the House of Representatives passed a decriminalization bill, although a similar bill failed to pass the Senate. Meanwhile, the Biden administration began pardoning all those who were convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law and asked governors to do the same for those convicted of similar crimes under state laws.
What about Indiana?
It’s important to note that Indiana has not loosened its marijuana laws to any significant degree.
Under our state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is treated as a criminal offense. There is no exception for marijuana used for medical purposes. CBD products are legal only so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC.
The penalties that come with a conviction on marijuana possession charges under Indiana law can be harsh.
Possession of any amount is treated as a misdemeanor with a jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000. If the amount was less than 30 grams and the defendant has a prior drug offense on their record, the jail sentence can be up to a year and the fine can be up to $5,000. If the defendant has a prior drug offense on their record and is found with 30 grams or more, the charge is treated as a felony, with a sentence of up to two-and-a-half years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Penalties are severe for cultivation and sale. Those convicted of selling less than 30 grams can be jailed up to one year and fined up to $5,000. Those convicted of selling between 30 grams and 10 pounds can face a sentence of up to two-and-a-half years. Selling 10 pounds or more can mean imprisonment of up to six years and a fine of up to $10,000. That same penalty applies for convictions of selling any amount to a minor.
It’s also worth remembering that conviction on any of these charges also comes with a suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
Defending against marijuana charges
Given the marijuana laws in other states, it’s easy to see how people might be confused about Indiana’s laws. Some people might simply drive across state lines and find that what was legal across the border comes with harsh penalties in Indiana.
Those accused of drug crimes deserve a defense, and they need the strongest one they can find.