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(Much more) common nuisance

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader


T.J. is a bit of a drifter. Instead of finishing his senior year in college, T.J. takes off with some friends and hikes parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. From there, T.J. spends time biking and hiking from town to town.

T.J. holds a medical marijuana card from California. For some reason, T.J. seems to think that card allows him to smoke, grow and possess marijuana pretty much anywhere he goes in the U.S. T.J. is wrong about that. T.J. isn’t a real person.

T.J. finds himself in Indiana after hitching a ride from South Dakota. He hooks up with some friends and decides to stay awhile. T.J. hears that Indiana recently relaxed some of its drug laws. T.J. knows that Michigan, Illinois and Ohio permit medical marijuana. He assumes Indiana does too.

T.J. meets up with a guy who works part-time as a security guard at the mall. The guy tells T.J. about all of the “arrests” he’s made. The guy tells T.J. that in Indiana that a person who possessed fewer than 30 grams of marijuana before 2014 committed a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail. Before the law changed, a person who got caught with 30 grams or more of marijuana would be charged with a felony punishable up to three years in prison. And that now a person with no prior drug convictions who gets caught with much more than 30 grams commits a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum of only 180 days in jail.

T.J. likes what he hears because it sounds like he can avoid a felony for messing around with marijuana.

T.J. buys an old camper trailer and convinces his security guard buddy to let him park it in his driveway. T.J. sleeps in the trailer and spends time there reading and getting high.

One day, an officer knocks on the camper’s door and wakes up T.J. The officer tells T.J. that neighbors are complaining that he’s living in the driveway. The officer smells burnt marijuana and asks to search. T.J. consents and tries to show the officer his medical marijuana card. The officer finds a small bag of marijuana along with some rolling papers.

The officer arrests T.J. for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and a Level 6 felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance.

In Indiana, a person who knowingly uses a building, structure or vehicle to unlawfully keep, use, make or sell a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia commits the offense.

The officer explains to T.J. that people in Indiana who are caught with marijuana or pipes or bowls in their homes, cars or tents get charged with felony maintaining.

T.J. is pretty sure his security guard buddy never mentioned anything about that.


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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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.