State Rep. Ragen Hatcher outlines her legislative agenda for 2019 session of General Assembly

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INDIANAPOLIS—State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary) stated today her legislative agenda for the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly calls for common sense changes in the state’s criminal justice system, including the decriminalization of marijuana.

One of Hatcher’s top proposals would make the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a class C infraction, which translates to a civil penalty of between $100 and $200.

“For many young Hoosiers in Indiana’s criminal justice system, possession of marijuana is their first criminal conviction,” Hatcher said. “These are 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds facing consequences for the rest of their lives for a minor infraction.

“Making the possession of marijuana a violation, rather than a criminal offense, will alleviate the overcrowding that our jails and prisons face across the state,” she continued. “Instead of going through the process of arrest and investigation, police officers would only have to issue a citation.”

Hatcher will also file legislation to enable a city or town to adopt an ordinance requiring members of its police and fire departments to live in that community.

“When our emergency responders live close by, we feel safe as a community,” Hatcher said. “We can rest easy knowing that our police officers and firefighters are available for any emergency at any time. Further, there is a financial benefit to the city to keep dollars in the community.”

Other proposals Hatcher will be pushing for this legislative session include changes in school policies that will permit students to complete schoolwork during suspension and use non-animal alternatives during dissection.

“As a community we need to encourage our younger citizens,” Hatcher said. “Keeping students from completing schoolwork puts them behind in their classes and encourages a negative pattern of disinterest in education. We should do everything possible to reinforce positive behavior.”

Another legislative priority of Hatcher’s would amend current law to require that expunged criminal records be destroyed or permanently deleted rather than sealed or redacted.

“Once a person has completed their sentence, they have paid their debt to society,” Hatcher said. “In order for that person to get a second chance at life, their expunged criminal record must be destroyed.”

Continuing with her support of criminal justice amendments, Hatcher is introducing a bill that prohibits courts from requiring an arrestee to pay bail as a condition of pretrial as long as they are not a flight risk or danger to the community.

Hatcher’s second proposal regarding marijuana would establish a five-year pilot program that would permit the use of medical cannabis in Indiana. The pilot program would be administered by the state Department of Health and funded by a medical cannabis cultivation tax. Seven percent of the sales price per ounce of cannabis would be taxed and transferred to the medical cannabis fund.

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