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Indiana Lawmakers Still Won't Vote on Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

By: Marie Scarci | February 15, 2023

On Wednesday, Indiana will make history by hosting the first hearing of a bill discussing decriminalizing marijuana. House Bill 1297 proposes to allow individuals to possess two ounces or less without any penalties if passed into law. This was a monumental step for cannabis reform in The Hoosier State and could potentially pave the way forward toward future legalization.

At this time, Indiana is among the few US states that have yet to legalize marijuana either for medical or recreational purposes. However, Republican leaders of the statehouse announced plans in December 2022 to potentially debate legislation on cannabis reform.

Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) has announced his intent to regulate delta-8, the newly popular chemical compound found in hemp. The specifics of these regulations have yet to be released, but discussions are well underway.

Representative Heath VanNatter of District 38 is spearheading HB 1297, a groundbreaking decriminalization bill set to be discussed Wednesday. This bipartisan effort has been co-authored by both Republican and Democratic legislators across the state.

The bill seeking to create policy changes has recently been presented before Indiana State Lawmakers. Co-authored by Representatives Ryan Hatfield (D), Jim Lucas (R), and Becky Cash(R); the proposed legislation had its initial reading on January 11th and the details were supposed to be discussed Wednesday.

Despite having been given legislative consideration, the Indiana House will not advance a highly-debated bill this session. State Rep. Wendy McNamara, chairwoman of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, confirmed today that no vote would be taken on the measure before adjournment.

Though it may not be the outcome that many had hoped for, it's a small move toward normalizing cannabis consumption and its acceptance. This opens a chance for new possibilities for many people to be able to receive a chance at alternative medicine.

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