In November, Ohio voted to legalize recreational cannabis (also known as marijuana). This news might not be relevant to the average Hoosier – until you learn that Indiana is now surrounded by three states that have legalized recreational cannabis: Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
Indiana continues to prohibit the possession of both recreational and medical marijuana. This can cause problems for visitors from neighboring states and local residents who might be unaware of Indiana’s strict laws.
Marijuana possession can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense in Indiana. When is the crime one or the other?
Possession as a misdemeanor
Per Indiana law, a person who knowingly possesses marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or salvia or cultivates cannabis commits a Class B misdemeanor offense. It’s also a Class B misdemeanor to know that a person is growing marijuana on their premises and fail to destroy or report said plants.
A conviction for this offense carries up to 180 days of jail time and $1,000 in fines.
If a person commits any of the above and has a prior conviction for any drug offense, the crime becomes a Class A misdemeanor instead. If the person possesses cannabis, hash oil, hashish or salvia packaged in a way that claims the product is low-THC hemp extract, the possession offense is also a Class A misdemeanor.
A Class A misdemeanor conviction leads to up to 365 days in jail and $5,000 in fines.
Possession as a felony
Possession of cannabis becomes a Level 6 felony if the following apply:
- The person has a prior drug offense conviction
- The person possesses either:
- At least 30 grams of cannabis; or
- At least five grams of hash oil, hashish or salvia
A conviction for a Level 6 felony leads to up to two and a half years of prison. In addition, a court can order the convicted to pay as much as $10,000 in fines.
Indiana maintains its strict prohibition of marijuana. Anyone who possesses the substance can face criminal charges. Although the offense only becomes a felony if the person carries a certain amount of cannabis and has a prior conviction, anyone accused should underestimate these charges at their peril.
Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony offense, consider working with a legal professional if you face charges.