Indiana Marijuana Laws: Crossing the (State) Line

May 17, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Indiana Marijuana Laws: Crossing the (State) Line

While many states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana possession or use, Indiana marijuana laws are still relatively strict. Regardless of the legalization status in neighboring states, you can still receive harsh penalties for the possession and sale of marijuana in Indiana. Further, other Indiana statutes also apply, such as the law prohibiting operating a vehicle on marijuana, violation of which can result in a driving under the influence charge, and federal laws still prohibit marijuana possession and the transportation of marijuana across state lines.

In our mobile world with pockets of relaxed marijuana laws, how do you know what applies to you? Here, an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP explains the limits set by Indiana marijuana laws and other relevant statutes.

Dealing with Indiana Marijuana Laws in Light of Legalization Elsewhere

Three of the states bordering Indiana—Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio—have legalized the marijuana in one way or another. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced it will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana possession offenses. With such variation in marijuana laws and enforcement, many may ask themselves “is weed legal in Indiana?”

To date, the Indiana General Assembly has not legalized or decriminalized marijuana. As a result, you can still face significant penalties under Indiana marijuana laws if you possess or use even a small amount. Moreover, marijuana or marijuana products legally purchased in another state or jurisdiction become illegal when brought into Indiana. Although Indiana has not yet legalized marijuana, the legislature has entertained the idea. Thirteen marijuana bills received attention in the 2022 legislative session, although none made it to the governor’s desk.

To help you navigate this maze, below is a summary of some of the recent legislative activity on cannabis, the current state of marijuana laws in the surrounding states, and the consequences for violating current Indiana marijuana laws.

Marijuana Laws on Both Sides of the Scale

Like other states, Indiana has wrestled with the legalization of marijuana in recent years. While the state still has not made the leap to legalize cannabis across the board—or even in significant ways—the legislature has opened the door. Following are two pieces of legislation that make certain types of cannabis use legal in the state.

The Legality of CBD in Indiana

While recreational marijuana is illegal in Indiana, some other cannabis products are not. In 2018, Governor Holcomb signed into law Senate Bill 52 (the 2018 Farm Bill), which legalized low-THC cannabis. The law allows anyone in Indiana to buy, sell, and possess CBD oil that meets packaging requirements and has no more than .3 percent THC. CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabis product made from industrial hemp. CBD oil is known for having the hallucinogenic property of the THC removed from marijuana, thus eliminating the ability for someone to get high from CBD.

Possession and Use of Marijuana Is Still Illegal under Federal Law

Juxtaposed against that crack in Indiana marijuana acceptance is federal law, under which marijuana remains illegal to possess or use. Possession of marijuana on federally owned land also violates federal law. As such, possession of marijuana could result in a federal charge even when bought and possessed in a state that has legalized it.

In addition, a person who brings or ships marijuana across state lines could be charged with drug trafficking under federal law. The quantity of marijuana does not matter—you can be charged with drug trafficking for as little as one gram of weed.

Keffer Hirschauer LLP helps clients understand both state and federal marijuana laws. Contact an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer for help should you face charges in Indiana.

Indiana Marijuana Laws and Marijuana Laws in Neighboring States

In recent years, more states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana for adult use. Of the states surrounding Indiana, Michigan and Illinois have fully legalized possession and use of limited amounts marijuana. Ohio has decriminalized possession and use of smaller amounts and legalized medical marijuana.

How It Works in States Where Marijuana Is Legal

The states who fully legalize marijuana allow the adult population of their states to buy marijuana from stores known as dispensaries. In those states, it is not illegal to possess marijuana when purchased legally in a state where legalization has occurred.

Simply because you bought marijuana legally in another state, federal and Indiana weed laws still prohibit the possession or sale of the marijuana inside state lines. As such, if you bring into Indiana marijuana that you legally purchased elsewhere, you can face charges for the possession of marijuana brought across state lines.

What Is Decriminalization?

When marijuana is decriminalized in a state, the residents are generally allowed to possess a certain amount without risk being charged with a crime. Decriminalization means no arrest, jail time, or criminal record for the first time a person is caught with a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption. The court treats these infractions similarly to minor traffic violations.

Decriminalization only applies to marijuana for personal use, and the amount allowed to be possessed without having it be a crime varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Anyone caught with large amounts of marijuana or trying to sell marijuana is still at risk of criminal charges.

Penalties for Weed Under Indiana Marijuana Laws

Indiana Code § 35-48-2-4 lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug. The severity of penalties for marijuana possession depends on the quantity and intention of the defendant.

Offenses for Possession of Marijuana in Indiana

The severity of sentence for marijuana possession in Indiana is determined by the amount of marijuana involved and whether the individual has a prior conviction for marijuana possession. Under Indiana Code § 35-48-4-11, possession of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

If an individual charged with possession has a prior drug offense, possession of fewer than 30 grams is a Class A misdemeanor with a potential a one-year sentence and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Anyone in possession of at least 30 grams and with a prior drug offense conviction faces between six months and two and a half years of jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Offenses for Dealing in Marijuana in Indiana

Under Indiana Code § 35-48-4-10, a person convicted of selling marijuana in Indiana face more severe penalties than those charged with possession. A first-time charge for those who sell less than 30 grams is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine. A second offense is a Level 6 felony, which is punishable by six months to two and a half years in jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.

The sale of at least 30 grams but less than ten pounds of marijuana is a Level 6 felony punishable by incarceration six months to two and a half years and a $10,000 fine. The sale of ten pounds or more is a Level 5 felony that carries a one- to six-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Indiana marijuana laws prohibit the sale of marijuana to minors under any circumstances. The sale of any amount of marijuana to a minor is a Level 5 felony punishable by incarceration for one to six years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana Marijuana Laws and Driving Under the Influence

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is also a criminal offense in Indiana. An offender may be charged with driving under the influence for allegedly operating a vehicle with a controlled substance is present in their body. Indiana law does not require the driver to be impaired to be found guilty of a driving under the influence conviction. Rather, the mere presence of THC in the person’s system (along with evidence of the other elements of the offense) is sufficient to support a conviction.

While alcohol is generally out of your system within 24 hours, marijuana can be detected by testing for several weeks after use. So what happens when you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in Indiana?

Testing Drivers for Marijuana

When driving in Indiana, you impliedly consent to chemical testing. A police officer who has probably cause to believe that you are driving under the influence may require you to undergo testing. The test needs to be performed within three hours of the police officer acquiring probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. Failure to comply with the testing requirement results in the immediate revocation of your license and suspension of your driving privileges for a year or more.

Penalties for Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of Marijuana

The severity of the penalty depends on how many prior driving under the influence arrests the defendant has. For the first offense, the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor but is still at risk for up to a one-year sentence, a maximum fine of $5,000, a license suspension for up to one year, and probation for up to two years.

A second DUI offense is a Level 6 felony if charged within five years of the first driving under the influence of the first conviction. The second offense results in a minimum sentence of five days or up to two and a half years, a fine of up to $10,000, a license suspension for six months to two years, and probation for two and a half years.

A defendant’s third offense for driving under the influence is also a Level 6 felony when it is within five years from the last conviction. Penalties include between ten and two and a half years in jail, a fine up to $10,000, license suspension for at least one year, and up to two and a half years of probation.

While these are the most common driving under the influence charges, there are additional penalties and enhanced penalties if the operation of a vehicle under the influence results in a death or if a passenger in the vehicle is a minor. Multiple driving under the influence convictions can result in suspended driving privileges if the individual is adjudicated a habitual traffic violator.

Should you face a charge of driving under the influence of marijuana, an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you create and implement a robust defense strategy.

Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Your Advocate in Dealing with Indiana Marijuana Laws

Marijuana laws can be tricky to navigate due to the always-changing legal landscape surrounding weed. Before visiting another state where you intend to legally purchase or use marijuana or marijuana products, it is important to understand the legal status of marijuana in all jurisdictions in which you plan to travel. An experienced Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can explain your rights under Indiana marijuana laws and how laws in other states affect your Indiana conduct and ably represent you in criminal or other relevant proceedings. For help understanding marijuana laws and a comprehensive and effect defense, contact use by calling (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form.

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