Since 1913, cannabis has been illegal in the state of Indiana. Despite the fact that substantial cannabis reform is sweeping the Midwest, and the fact that their neighbors to the north (Michigan) and to the west (Illinois) having recently legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults, Indiana has literally done the bare minimum by allowing the sale, possession, and use of CBD products with less than 0.3% THC.
But, boy… if you got popped with anything more than 0.3% THC in Indiana anytime in the past century or so, it wasn’t pretty. As state law is written today, getting caught with ANY amount of actual weed or weed-related product is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in prison. If you’re caught with an ounce or less of weed AND you’ve had ANY prior drug offense, the hammer drops even harder with a Class A misdemeanor charge, a $5,000 fine, and up to a full year behind bars. 30 grams or more along with a prior drug conviction and you’ll likely get slapped with a Class D felony charge, up to a $10,000 fine, and at least six months and up to three years of jail time. You don’t even want to know what they do to if they find your hash or extracts and say your prayers if they catch you dealing or growing.
The Conservative prohibition of cannabis was going perfectly according to plan, with roughly 15,000 Indiana residents being arrested every single year and having their permanent records tarnished over a damn plant, but then the Feds legalized “hemp” at the end of 2018.
At first, state officials in Indiana welcomed this lucrative new cash crop but it didn’t long for them to enact a ban on the sale or possession of “smokable” hemp buds or products.
The reasoning behind their decision basically boils down to the fact that local law enforcement officers were having a hard time discerning between a rolling paper full of legal hemp or full of prohibited cannabis. Roughly $30 million in taxpayer funds go to policing pot each year in Indiana, but from the police perspective, that’s a thirty million dollar slush fund that suddenly got threatened.
So, rather than train officers properly, or make the logical move and at the very least decriminalize the possession of cannabis, Indiana state officials tried to ban something that the Federal Government just explicitly made unbannable.
As you might expect, justice was swift in this case and in a ruling handed down this week, a federal judge pretty much rolled the ban up, sparked it, and smoked it down to the roach by rightfully calling it unconstitutional. A lobby of hemp manufacturers successfully argued that the state could not supersede or circumvent the intent of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The implications of this ruling put the state of Indiana, and its approach to cannabis enforcement, in check. As much as their cowardly cops may have enjoyed milking the marijuana teet, they’d suck that mofo dry almost immediately if they had to send every half roasted bowl of greenery off for lab testing. So now, Indiana joins other traditionally right wing anti-weed states like Texas in the awkward abyss of refusing to reform old, broken laws but now being unable to enforce them.
On the surface, this may feel like an accidental victory, and for many folks it is. Whether you are in Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, or any podunk, assbackwards part of the country and you get caught blazing weed all you have to say is, “It’s cool, pig, it’s just hemp” (Maybe leave out the pig part) and you've at least got a chance at skating.
This week’s court ruling in Indiana sets a clear legal precedent and will provide plenty of ammo for other pro-hemp groups around the country who may need to challenge similar attempts at bans on smokable hemp.
The utter confusion we are seeing from law enforcement and lawmakers when trying to tell cannabis apart from hemp provides a convenient gray area for cannabis users in less-than-legal states. In some cases, state Attorneys General are instructing officers and troopers to stop making low level cannabis-related arrests until they can get their heads wrapped around the situation. But the only way to get grey is with black and white, and the real danger in making cannabis prosecution a case-by-case judgement call is that here in the U.S. people of color are much more likely to face the wrath of law enforcement for cannabis crimes than their Caucasian counterparts. Indiana is no different. While African Americans make up just 9.8% of the total state population, they represent nearly 28% of cannabis arrests.
That is easy pickins for lazy cops and you can scan almost any police report from these cases over the years and find that “the smell of marijuana” was almost always the reason given for shaking down the suspect or searching the vehicle. That shit doesn’t stick in court anymore and the pigs are pissed.
“Oh, you smell marijuana, officer? Smells to me like hemp… yep, smells like *sniff sniff* 0.27% to me! Oh and bacon, do you smell bacon?”
Dumbass Mitch McConnell legalized hemp because he knows his time in office is coming to an end and he wants to somehow cash in on the back end of his evil life without having to waddle out into public. It’s fascinating that he and his cronies apparently looked past the implications it would have on the national CBD craze and now on the way that states prosecute cannabis cases (or not).
Watch for an all-out blitz against smoking weed, smoking hemp, or smoking/vaping anything over the next year or so from the very same people who never saw this coming.