What Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Means for Indiana

What will marijuana legalization mean for business, past conviction, and beyond?

Legalizing Marijuana in Indiana

Rock Lee

January 8, 2020 08:00 AM

Marijuana laws in the Midwest are rapidly changing. Several states, including Michigan and Illinois, have recently legalized recreational weed. This means that the sale and purchase of marijuana in those states is currently, or will be soon, legal for medical and recreational purposes.

Indiana is one state that has so far resisted legalizing marijuana. However, some state legislators will seek to change that in 2020. Purposes for legalizing marijuana include generating money for the state through taxes and alleviating stress on prisons by not convicting individuals for misdemeanor marijuana drug charges.

The New Laws

Michigan and Illinois, both states that border Indiana, have passed recent laws that make medical and recreational marijuana legal. In Michigan, recreational marijuana became legal on December 1, 2019. State citizens over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of weed from licensed retailers. Currently, only a few retailers are operating because many local municipalities opted out of allowing the legal sale of marijuana in their jurisdictions.

Illinois was the eleventh state to legalize recreational marijuana. On January 1, 2020, any adult state-citizen over 21 years of age will be allowed to legally purchase or possess up to 30 grams of marijuana plant material, 500 mg or less of THC, or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Non-state residents will be allowed to purchase half of those amounts.

In Indiana, the sale, purchase, and possession of marijuana are still illegal for both medical and recreational uses. Only CBD oil is legal for sale and purchase in the state. However, on the local level, there have been some advances. In September 2019, Acting Indianapolis Prosecutor Ryan Mears decriminalized some marijuana crimes by announcing that simple possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would no longer be prosecuted.

What does this mean for past criminals?

While states are passing laws to legalize marijuana, it is still not legal on the federal level. This means that citizens who live in a state that has legalized marijuana can still be punished or fined at the federal level. It also means that any past convictions at the federal level will not be overturned if the state has changed or intends to alter its laws.

In Michigan, there are current efforts to create a law that will make it easy to expunge the records of over 250,000 individuals who have been convicted of marijuana-related crimes in the past. As of December 2019, the bill had passed the state House and was waiting on a vote in the state senate. If the state Senate approves, the bill will then be given to the Governor to sign to make it into a new law.

The bill that legalized marijuana in Illinois also provided for the expunging of criminal records for over 700,000 state citizens who had past marijuana convictions. Any individual with a criminal record for marijuana convictions involving 30 grams or less will now receive automatic clemency.

In Indiana, marijuana is still illegal and those with marijuana convictions in the state will still have a criminal record. However, following other state trends, it can be assumed that some of those convictions would be expunged or forgiven if the state legalized recreational marijuana.

What does this mean for the future?

States make a lot of money through taxes when they legalized medical and recreational weed. New businesses that sell marijuana also tend to make a large profit. Because of this, the purpose of expunging criminal records in states that have legalized marijuana is to balance fairness. Legislators argue that it isn’t fair to allow states and businesses to make money off of an action that resulted in previous convictions for over hundreds of thousands of state citizens.

Currently, an Indiana citizen can cross state lines and buy and use marijuana in both Michigan and Illinois. They will not be fined or punished for doing so in those states. However, if they purchase marijuana legally in one state and cross back into Indiana with the drug, they can and will still face drug charges. It is also important to note that crossing a state border with a drug is a federal crime and the person would be prosecuted on the federal level.

As mentioned before, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. This means that federal employees and military members still cannot purchase or use marijuana in states where it is legal. It also means that the federal government can prosecute marijuana crimes in states where it has been legalized. A recent bill was approved by a House Committee that could legalize marijuana on the federal level. However, it is not currently expected to pass in the Senate.


Rock Lee is a criminal defense lawyer in Indianapolis at Suhre & Associates, LLC. They handle all criminal defense matters including DUI, drug crimes, domestic violence charges, theft crimes, sex crimes, and more.

Related Articles

Evolving Marijuana Laws and the Workplace

by Tess P. Anglin

How can employers enforce statutes that differ from state to state?

Red image of a marijuana leaf

The Green Rush: Cannabis Is a Growing Industry

by Justin Smulison

Connecticut announced it will legalize high-THC cannabis for adult use on July 1, making it the 19th state to do so in the U.S. As of June 2021, 38 states and Puerto Rico have legalized cannabis for medical use.

Cannabis Legalized in Connecticut

Truck Safety Watchdogs

by Best Lawyers

Unqualified, Poorly Trained Truck Drivers and Unsafe Trucks Heighten Roadway Dangers

Truck Safety and Roadway Dangers

Alice Tseng - Toronto 2021 Lawyer of the Year

by Best Lawyers

Cannabis Law Toronto, ON

Alice Tseng

As Courts Grapple With the COVID-19 Pandemic, Scarlett Law Group Adapts

by Sean Stonefield

Best Lawyers honoree Randall Scarlett on obtaining results despite unprecedented challenges.

Scarlett Law Group

Achieving Justice For Essential Workers

by Justin Smulison

Patrick Regan of Regan Zambri Long describes how the recent resolution of a corporate negligence case brought closure to survivors of a fatal 2016 apartment building explosion.

Patrick Regan Best Lawyers 2021

Engineered for Success

by Justin Smulison

Koskoff’s product-liability leader, Bill Bloss, explains how his group combines legal knowledge with engineering insight for the benefit of their clients—and future consumers as well

Bill Bloss Best Lawyers 2020

Trial Law Leadership

by Justin Smulison

Daniel J.T. Sciano, twice-named Best Lawyers® San Antonio “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs (2010, 2012), discusses how his record of success impacts clients and Texas’ legal community

Daniel Sciano Best Lawyers 2020

Big Case Warriors

by Best Lawyers

The co-founders of Lyons & Simmons, LLP discuss their relentless dedication to pursuing justice for clients while also invoking change.

Lyons & Simmons Best Lawyers 2020

A Trial Icon

by Sean Stonefield

Dan Cogdell on his almost four decades of courtroom success.

Dan Cogdell Best Lawyers 2020

Brophy & Devaney, PLLC

by Best Lawyers

Joseph F. Brophy embraces his reputations for his zealous representation of his clients and is passionate about learning their businesses and problems and ensuring that their rights are protected and their interests are maximized, whether by way of litigation or transaction.

Joseph Brophy Best Lawyers 2020

What Are the Anti-Protest Laws in the U.S.?

by Jim Owen

The First Amendment includes the right to assemble. But how are the rules surrounding protesting changing?

Anti-Protest Laws in the U.S.

How to Digitally Market Your Law Firm

by dNovo Group

In the digital age, everyone is online. So it's important to make sure your results pop up first. This digital marketing agency gives SEO tips specifically for lawyers.

How SEO is Different for Lawyers in Toronto

Are Teenage Drivers More Likely to be in a Car Accident?

by Jason Stephens

Teenagers are more likely to be in car accidents due to driving inexperience. But what are the other factors, and what can be done to help?

Teenage Drivers and Car Accidents

Tried and Tested

by Johanna Marmon

Victor Pribanic has been securing justice for wronged individuals for more than four decades.

Victor Pribanic Best Lawyers 2020

Big Wins From Coast to Coast

by Justin Smulison

Founder Michael S. Burg discusses how Burg Simpson’s lawyers secured major verdicts in some of the nation’s most unique cases in 2019.

Michael S. Burg Best Lawyers 2020

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Could Reign Supreme End with the Queen?

by Sara Collin

Canada is revisiting the notion of abolishing the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, but many Canadians and lawmakers are questioning if Canada could, should and would follow through.

Teacup on saucer over image of Queen's eye


2022: Another Banner Year

by John Fields

Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to secure some of New York’s highest results for personal injury matters.

Three men in business suits standing in office

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Thirteen Years of Excellence

by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background

The Upcycle Conundrum

by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests

by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes