Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry recently stepped down from his position in order to take time to treat focus on treating his prostate cancer. The vacancy has resulted in the requirement for a caucus vote by the Indiana Democratic Party to replace Curry, an event which has been scheduled for October 5th. Curry was a proponent of legalization by legislative mechanism, and met with the Indiana NORML team this year to discuss his efforts to prevent prison sentences for possession cases. He also coordinated a meeting between Indiana NORML with outgoing IPAC Executive Director David Powell as well as the new Executive Director Chris Naylor to discuss cannabis policy. With the pending caucus vote to replace him, Marion county residents are no doubt curious where his replacement will stand on the prosecution of cannabis possession charges.
The first candidate to potentially replace Curry, and who is endorsed by Curry himself, is the current acting prosecutor Ryan Mears. In a recent IndyPolitics interview, Mears had the following to say about cannabis:
“I think the prosecution of small amounts of marijuana doesn’t make sense in 2019. We’re at the point now where you look at our surrounding states and following through on those types of prosecutions I don’t think improves public safety at all. I think it puts people in the system who don’t need to be in the system. I think it disproportionately affects African Americans and so we need to do everything in our power when those cases are filed, they are filed few and far between because I don’t think it has a benefit to public safety at all.”
When asked by the interview host if this included the “Pablo Escobars” with trucks full of cannabis, Mears clarified, “We’re not talking about consumption, we’re not talking about – if you have ten pounds I’m not suggesting that at all. If you pull someone over and they end up having a joint in the car, is it worth the resources to prosecute that individual? I think with some of the challenges that we’re facing in Marion county that it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
The other candidate up for consideration is Tim Moriarty, who has worked for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett as Special Counsel and is endorsed by Hogsett. Moriarty has not responded to an email requesting his stance on the prosecution of cannabis possession cases, although in a general statement on drug policy he has said, “As prosecutor, I believe I can implement holistic reforms that fundamentally address the mental health and addiction challenges that face too many in our criminal justice system while helping to rid our neighborhoods of the worst of the worst.”
We hope to hear from Moriarty before the caucus vote so that Precinct Committeepeople can utilize the information as they prepare for their vote, as well as so the public can follow the process and have an idea what policy the prosecutor’s office will take moving forward. This article will be updated if more information becomes available.