At a media availability last week to talk about the bill, none of the co-authors said the word “marijuana”, though I think they should have if they wanted to get good media coverage.
As Time magazine reported last week, “pot is having a political moment” as the push to lessen penalties for marijuana has moved from the margins to mainstream.
Tallian’s bill was a pipe dream — no way is this current General Assembly ready to join the 14 states that have decriminalized possession (or the handful of other states that have started down that path.)
But it wasn’t without some hope: Late last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brent Steele — a rock-ribbed, law-and-order guy if there ever was one — came out in support of Tallian’s proposal. He likened Indiana’s marijuana laws to “smashing an ant with a sledgehammer.
Steele backed off after he decided the idea wasn’t politically palatable to his conservative colleagues — at least not yet.
Remember that committee chairman who wouldn’t give Tallian’s bill a hearing? He’s promised Tallian that he’ll research the issue before next year’s session. Maybe that’s a sign that decriminalization isn’t dead, just dormant.
— Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org