The US state of Indiana prohibits the recreational use of marijuana and has granted residents only conditional access to hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). The Indiana Criminal Code lists marijuana as one of the Schedule 1 substances, which are regarded as lacking medical benefit, and liable to be abused.
In keeping with its anti-marijuana stance, the state of Indiana makes it illegal to cultivate marijuana. An Indiana resident found selling or cultivating 30 grams or less of marijuana is statutorily charged with a misdemeanor, and faces one year in prison. The sale or cultivation of more than 10 ounces of marijuana is a felony and attracts a prison term of between 6 and 30 months.
There is no extant program for the issuance of medical marijuana cards. Only hemp-derived cannabidiol CBD is currently allowed for therapeutic use by Indiana residents. Hemp is one variant of the cannabis plant and contains a lower percentage of the hallucinogenic substance tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Patients, or their caregivers, are eligible for enrollment into the cannabidiol registry if the patient has a doctor-issued certification showing that they are dealing with "treatment-resistant Epilepsy". Qualifying patients are entitled to purchase low-THC / CBD oil whose labeling indicates that it has received federal approval to be offered as a prescription drug.
Because marijuana is still a prohibited substance under Indiana law, it is difficult to measure the impact of marijuana on Indiana’s economy. Advocacy groups and academic bodies have nevertheless published studies arguing for the legalization of marijuana in Indiana, pointing to the increased revenues that neighboring states like Michigan and Illinois have derived from encouraging a medical marijuana economy.
Indiana University's Center for Health Policy released a study in 2020 drawing attention to the tax revenue that the state could gain from marijuana legalization and the expenditure savings that could accrue to it from diverting law enforcement dollars away from marijuana policing. In addition, the Indiana University study projected that taxation on marijuana could also generate revenue for the state to expand its health and education sectors. Another point made in the study was that introducing an agricultural cash crop like marijuana would boost Indiana's economy and government coffers, and provide employment for a whole new cadre of workers.
An advocacy group, Indiana Cann, has calculated that the legalization of marijuana in Indiana could bring potential revenues of $171 million. It has been argued that the marijuana industry would be immune to the threat of economic recession. Indiana Cann asserts that 321,000 jobs had been created across the US in the marijuana industry by January 2021.
Perhaps due to the strict prohibition on the use, sale, distribution, or possession of marijuana in Indiana, it has historically been responsible for a fair share of the state’s crime statistics. One report by the Indiana Criminal Justice Initiative recorded a 493% increase in marijuana trafficking following the 2014 reforms of the state's Criminal Code.
A 2018 position statement by the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys (AIPA) stated that the organization opposed the legalization of marijuana in the state. The AIPA insisted that 'marijuana use consistently predicts a greater likelihood of involvement in crime and the criminal justice system where the risk of criminal involvement was between 1.5 and 3 times greater for marijuana itself'. A 2020 research brief by Indiana University's Center for Health Policy cited a national survey that found that 15.6% of Indiana residents over 12 years had used marijuana in 2018.
Data published by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program indicates 8,927 marijuana-related arrests in 2014, 8,686 in 2015, and 9,237 in 2016. In 2018 there were 13,050 marijuana-related arrests in Indiana, 11,310 of which were for possession of the banned substance. In 2019, there were 8,526 arrests for marijuana offenses in Indiana.
A medical marijuana card is an official document issued by state authorities in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. It carries information identifying the holder as a qualifying patient who, because of suffering from one of the legally approved diseases and medical conditions, is entitled to purchase, use, or plant cannabis for therapeutic use.
The state of Indiana currently does not issue medical marijuana cards, even though it has in place a program offering access to low THC / cannabidiol. Many of the states which have medical marijuana programs provide residents with medical cards which are renewable annually and grant holders immunity from arrest or prosecution, provided they remain within legal limits of possession.
A medical card essentially grants access to its holder to purchase, in person or by proxy, medical marijuana in its various forms, whether low THC oil, processed dry cannabis, hash, gummies, lotions, creams, tinctures, or capsules.
The use, sale, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana have been illegal in Indiana since 1913. Marijuana use for recreational purposes is still strictly banned, even though, in recent years, legislation has been passed establishing access to low THC oil / CBD for patients with epileptic seizures brought on by conditions such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. This limited access to medical marijuana in Indiana is further underscored by the fact that no officially approved dispensaries are offering the drug to residents. However, pharmaceutical retailers are granted permission to sell low THC oil products to Indiana residents, provided the products contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. The bills listed below are marijuana-related bills proposed in the Indiana House and Senate.
Rep William Friend authored House Bill 1148 with 42 other members of the Indiana Legislature. HB 1148 was sponsored by Senator Randall Head, Senator Blake Doriot, Senator Karen Tallian, Senator Lonnie Randolph, and Senator Philip Boots. HB 1148 was declared as an amendment to pre-existing criminal statutes in Indiana and granted immunity from prosecution to state residents who were either patients or caregivers and might be found in possession of CBD. The bill approved the use of CBD for what it described as ‘treatment resistant epilepsy’. It also provided for the creation of a cannabidiol registry in Indiana and the issuance of registration cards to individuals and caregivers who were 18 years and older, legally resident in the state of Indiana, and certified by their doctors to be suffering from epileptic seizures and unresponsive to other remedies besides CBD.
SB 52 was authored by Senator Michel Young and Senator James Tomes. It was co-authored by Senator Mark Stoops, Senator Timothy Lanane, Senator Connie Randolph, Senator Karen Tallian, and Senator James Buck. It was sponsored by Rep William Friend, Reg David Frizzell, Rep Wendy McNamara, and Rep Sheila Klinker.
The bill defined marijuana broadly as comprising the entirety of the cannabis plant and the resins derived from it. SB 52 allowed individuals to distribute 'low THC-hemp extract, provided the finished product had been confirmed for use by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and authorized for sale over the counter. Low THC distributors in Indiana were also required to obtain certification from independent laboratories attesting that their products had no more than 0.3% THC content.
Indiana State Governor Eric Holcomb said in 2020 that he could not support the initiative to legalize marijuana because it is still a banned substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (1970). Governor Holcomb implied that he would be willing to revise his stance if the federal prohibition was revoked.
During the 2021 legislative year in Indiana, 11 bills relating to marijuana were initiated in the House and Senate. Only one Senate Bill 200, was ratified into law. SB 200 was authored by Senator Mike Young, and it gave the Indiana Attorney-General the authority to intervene in counties where the local prosecutor had a policy of non-prosecution of certain crimes, especially marijuana-related offenses. Senator Young insisted that he was not directing the legislation to marijuana offenses, even though some Indiana counties refuse to prosecute residents for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In such cases, SB 200 gives the Indiana Attorney-General the right to appoint a special prosecutor.
During the 2022 legislative year, 13 marijuana-related bills were proposed by members of Indiana’s House and Senate. One of these, House Bill 1212, authored by Rep Jake Teshka, included among its main clauses the legalization of marijuana for Indiana residents above the age of 21. This legalization by the state would ultimately depend upon the removal of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug by US federal authorities. House Bill 1212 also proposed the creation of the Indiana Cannabis Commission, an oversight body that regulates the state’s recreational and medical marijuana program. The proposed bill received its first reading on the House floor and has been referred to the House Committee on Public Health.
Another proposed piece of marijuana legislation in 2022, SB 354, was authored by Senator Rodney Pol, and it was read on the floor of the Indiana Senate in January 2022. SB 354 was yet another amendment to Indiana's statutes on marijuana and it provided for a charge of possession to be leveled against any Indiana resident who possesses above two ounces of marijuana. Prior to the passage of SB 354, possession of any amount of marijuana attracted a marijuana possession charge. SB 354 revoked earlier Indiana statutes that made possession of marijuana and its derivatives such as hashish or hash oil a Level 6 felony.