Indiana Senate committee backs legalization study

Who kidnapped these Indiana State Senators and replaced them with humans?

Ind. Senate panel backs bills for study on marijuana legalization, track drugs used for meth

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A state Senate committee on Tuesday backed having the state crime policy panel study whether Indiana should legalize marijuana after hearing a legislator with multiple sclerosis say he wished he could legally try the drug to relieve his pain.

The committee also approved a bill requiring computerized tracking of cold medications used in making methamphetamine rather than mandating prescriptions, as some law enforcement groups urged.

The Senate’s criminal law committee voted 5-3 to advance to the full Senate the bill directing the criminal law and sentencing study committee to examine Indiana’s marijuana laws next summer and make recommendations.

Bill sponsor Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said she was concerned about the undetermined millions of dollars state and local governments were spending each year on police, prosecutors, courts and jails to enforce marijuana laws.

“We need to be able to say to the citizens of Indiana, `This is how much it’s costing us and is this where you want to spend your money and your tax dollars?’” Tallian said.

Update: Apparently some similar attack of the body-swappers has happened in Kentucky.

FRANKFORT — The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night approved the most sweeping changes to Kentucky’s penal code in a generation in an effort to reduce prison and jail crowding. [...]

The result of much negotiation and compromise, the bill would steer many drug addicts into treatment and community supervision rather than prison. It drew praise from prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges and local leaders. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce endorsed it, warning that the state’s incarceration costs are draining resources that could better be spent on education. [...]

One-fourth of Kentucky’s nearly 21,000 prison inmates are serving time for drug offenses. The state is spending $460 million this year on its Corrections Department.

Among many changes, the bill would maintain existing penalties for people caught selling the largest amounts of drugs while reducing penalties for people caught selling lesser amounts. It would reduce penalties for drug possession — often to misdemeanors — and allow courts to send minor offenders to addiction treatment and place them on an appropriate level of community supervision.

Simply locking up everyone convicted for drug offenses hasn’t worked, House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, told his colleagues. Since 2000, Kentucky’s prison rate has grown by 45 percent, compared to 13 percent for the national average, with no reduction in the number of repeat offenders.

Kentucky needs to rethink who needs to be behind bars and who can be handled differently, said Tilley, the bill’s sponsor. [...]

Also, any state legislator who filed a bill to establish a new crime or strengthen the penalty for an existing crime would have to identify a source of funding and list the cost in terms of housing or monitoring criminals.

[Thanks, Tom]

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