Home > It's A Legal Matter > Holding the bag

Holding the bag

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-11-07


Two more states recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Earlier this year, even Indiana relaxed its marijuana laws.

Possession of marijuana for a first time offender is now a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail. Prior to July 1 of this year, the offense was punishable up to one year in jail.

Apparently, our lawmakers recognized that too many people spent too much time in jails and prisons for low level marijuana and drug possession offenses. So, they lessened the penalties associated with those types of crimes. Makes sense to me.

Meet Jim and Jan. They arenít real people. Jim and Jan like to smoke marijuana. Actually, Jim likes to smoke it a lot more than does Jan. Jim smokes almost everyday. Jan might smoke a handful of times each month. Jim works at a coffee shop and attends school full-time. Jan is in college too. She plans to go to medical school. Neither Jim nor Jan had ever been in trouble with the law until last weekend. Hereís what happened.

Jan drives Jim to his friendís apartment. Jim promised to help his friend move from an upstairs apartment to one on the lower level. After arriving, Jim remains seated in the passenger seat. He pulls out a one-hitter pipe from his jacket and takes a couple of hits off of it until thereís nothing left to smoke. Jan reminds Jim that she doesnít want him smoking in her car. Jim puts the pipe in the center consoleís cup holder and gets out of the car.

A few minutes later, a police officer arrives at the apartment complex stating that he received a call about the smell of marijuana.

The officer asked Jan if he could search her car. Jan acquiesces and says she was aware the pipe was in the car. She goes on to explain that she has smoked marijuana from that pipe but not recently. The officer searches Jan and finds nothing. He then searches Jim and finds a large bag of marijuana in his inside jacket pocket.

Jim is ticketed for possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor, punishable up to six months in jail. The officer tells Jim he is free to leave. Jan, however, is arrested and charged with possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. It doesnít take Jan long to realize that her offense is punishable up to one year in jail Ė twice as long as Jimís offense!

On the way to the jail, Jan politely asks the officer why possessing a marijuana pipe is a more serious offense than the actual possession of marijuana. The officer tells Jan to ask her lawmakers. Jan says she will.

Jan never does get an answer.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you

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