Proposal to decriminalize marijuana in Gary fails by 1 vote

A proposal to decriminalize marijuana in Gary fell one vote short of passage amid concerns that it would overstep Indiana law.

Gary City Council members voted 4-4 last week on the proposal to reduce the criminal penalty for marijuana possession in the northwestern Indiana city by lowering the fine to $100 for people found in possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana. It also would have eliminated jail time.

Councilwoman Lavetta Sparks-Wade told The (Northwest) Indiana Times she abstained from voting because the council’s attorney advised the council that it would circumvent state law.

Council attorney Rinzer Williams said the proposal was “a glaring attempt to usurp” Indiana’s restrictive home rule law that bars local municipalities from reducing penalties outlined in state criminal statute.

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