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IU law professor discusses change to Marion County marijuana prosecution

IU law professor discusses change to marijuana prosecution in Marion County

News 8 at 10 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Monday announcement of changes to the way the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will handle marijuana possession drew responses from lawmakers and law enforcement.

Joel Schumm, a professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law who specializes in Indiana criminal law, joined News 8 on Monday night to discuss the significance and possible effects of a change to the way the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute marijuana possession.

The office will no longer prosecute adults on possession cases of less than 1 ounce when that charge is the only or the most serious charge, Acting Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Monday.

Mears took office Sept. 23 when Terry Curry stepped down to focus on his health while dealing with prostate cancer.

After the announcement from the prosecutor’s office, the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police No. 86 released a statement saying Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers have been directed “to continue enforcing the law.”

Before the policy change, prosecutors and law enforcement already had a lot of discretion in deciding whether to arrest someone who was possessing marijuana, Schumm said. He said he hopes there will be some communication and policy-making so that police don’t arrest people who will not end up being prosecuted.

Schumm described Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s statement that the change was a “welcome mat for lawbreakers” as grandstanding and said he agreed with Mears’ contention that there is no clear connection between minor marijuana possession and violent crime.

The policy change could lead other prosecutors in Indiana to decide not to prosecute marijuana possession of this kind, Schumm said.

He also said the policy change was probably a step toward making marijuana legal in Indiana.