It was announced by the Marion County Prosecutor’s office over the weekend on Sunday that it would no longer pursue and prosecute low possession amount cannabis cases and the change went into effect yesterday, September 30th. The office also went on to say that the decision to do so had been discussed for a few years and has now been finally acted on. Prosecutions of cannabis possession cases are now only involved with those that exceeded one ounce of cannabis.
Ryan Mears, Marion County Prosecutor, stated: “This is something that has been on our minds and discussed internally for the last couple of years. We have discussed this issue with different law enforcement partners…we think this is going to have a number of benefits to the community.”
Marion County Prosecutor’s office has taken a firm stance on the avoidance of simple cannabis possession cases and in order to shift the focus of priorities onto cases it deems to be severe and of the utmost importance. Mears, along with the Prosecutor’s office, believes that police officers need to focus on violent crimes without the distraction that is simple cannabis possession arrests. Another reason that the end of small cannabis possession arrests was brought about included the arrest disparity with individuals of color.
“We believe that is a wrong that we need to right,” said Mears.
Now, with the adjustment to the law under the Marion County Prosecutor’s office, possession of less than one ounce of cannabis will constitute a class B misdemeanor. Possession of one ounce or greater carries a charge of cannabis distribution and prosecution by the Prosecutor’s office.
“With that quantity of marijuana, you’re no longer talking about personal use. You’re talking about individuals who intend to distribute that marijuana,” he said.
A partnership with the Marion County Prosecutor’s office and additional agencies in order to effectively conduct an expungement process for previous simple cannabis possession convictions was announced by Mears. The county also has 393 simple cannabis possession cases that will undergo review to see if the cases can be dismissed or potentially have the charge removed under the new policy’s outlines.
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