The prosecutor’s office in Indiana’s largest county dismissed eight minor cannabis cases this week and said that it would no longer pursue criminal charges against anyone arrested for minor cannabis crimes.
According to local NBC affiliate WTHR, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced the new policy in a press conference on Monday, telling reporters and county officials that the decision was made to stop the proliferation of racist cannabis policing and redirect the focus of local law enforcement. The new directive means adults caught with 30 grams of weed or less, and those arrested for smoking in public, will not be prosecuted.
“Too often, an arrest for marijuana possession puts individuals into the system who otherwise would not be. That is not a win for our community,” Mears said. “The enforcement of marijuana policy has disproportionately impacted people of color, and this is a first step to addressing that.”
Marion County is home to the state capital, Indianapolis, and is populated by nearly one million people. On a whole, Indiana has trailed behind green rush trends, and the state has not yet established a legal medical or recreational weed program. Still, Mears was steadfast in his discretionary decision.
"Just because you are arrested on B misdemeanor possession of marijuana does not mean you are going to be a murderer or a robber," Mears told reporters. "We want people thinking about what will have the greatest impact on public safety. This does not have an impact on public safety, that's why we are walking away."
Gallery — Photos of Cops Smoking Weed:
As soon as he announced the office’s new cannabis guidelines, Mears faced backlash from the Indiana state Attorney General and the state’s Fraternal Order of Police. Both groups released statements focused on outdated concepts of gateway drugs and “potential unintended outcomes.”
But in cities like New York and Philadelphia, where prosecutors have also recently made cannabis reforms, the streets have not become overrun with wild weed smokers or any other fantasy consequence dreamed up by cops. Further, in states across the country where hemp production is becoming increasingly popular, prosecutors have been forced into similar de facto decriminalization rules thanks to poor drug testing equipment.
For Mears and his prosecutor peers, the new policy initiative will start immediately. The Marion County office has already dropped eight of 10 recent pot cases, and said that it is considering the same for 400 other pending drug arrests.
"It's not being sold. It's not being smoked,” Mears said. “We are not going to be filing those cases."
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