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News (Media Awareness Project) - US IN: Panel OKs Bath Salts Bill; Pot Legislation Likely to Die
Title:US IN: Panel OKs Bath Salts Bill; Pot Legislation Likely to Die
Published On:2012-01-24
Source:Indianapolis Star (IN)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:01:28

INDIANAPOLIS - A committee passed legislation today that is meant to
help police crack down on a synthetic drug known as "bath salts,"
sending the bill to the full Senate for consideration.

But members of the Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee
opted not to act on a bill that would have reduced penalties for
those caught using marijuana.

Senate Bill 347, authored by Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, would
have reduced the charges for possession of pot. Under the proposed
bill, possession of less than three ounces of marijuana would have
been reduced to an infraction. Similar to a speeding ticket, this
offense would be accompanied by a fine but no jail time.

Tallian said that the movement to legalize marijuana or simply reduce
the charges associated with it is becoming a trend nationally.
Tallian's bill would eliminate any felony charges associated with
marijuana possession, but she was quick to say it did not make it
legal to smoke the drug in public.

"You can't light it up on the Statehouse lawn," Tallian said.

The committee heard lengthy discussion about the history of marijuana
as well as the differences between marijuana, industrial hemp and
cannibus, which refers to medical marijuana. However, because the
committee was short on time, the chairman - Brent Steele, R-Bedford -
decided not to vote on the bill.

Instead, Steele focused on the bath salts bill. That effectively
kills the marijuana bill for this session because the committee has
no plans to meet again before a deadline for action.

The committee passed the Senate Bill 234, the bath salts bill,
unanimously after approving an amendment.

Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said the amendment granted some
strong power to the state's Board of Pharmacy to define the synthetic
drugs - including bath salts - that would be illegal.

The change is meant to address concerns that if the law defines the
drug - by including the known chemical formula - chemists will simply
make minor changes so the resulting product doesn't fit the old definition.

Under the amended bill, police could report new formulas to the
pharmacy board, which could take action to add them to the list of
drugs considered illegal.

"I am very proud of this bill," Merritt said. "I think this is the
bill of the session."
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