The top cop for the Indiana State Police on Tuesday advised a group of state lawmakers that marijuana be legalized and taxed.
Speaking at a budget committee meeting, Superintendent Paul Whitesell noted that both Colorado and Washington had decriminalized small amounts of the drug for recreational use.
“It’s here, it’s going to stay, there’s an awful lot of victimization that goes with it,” Whitesell said, according to radio station WFPL. “If it were up to me, I do believe I would legalize it and tax it, particularly in sight [sic] of the fact that several other states have now come to that part of their legal system as well.”
The superintendent recommended a system where marijuana users register with the state, “wherein if you are going to imbibe, you would go through there to be recognized or pay your taxes and keep some sense of it, give us some stats so you could monitor it in some fashion. And if you go around it in some other place, that’s where my folks would come in and take issue.”
A statement from the Indiana State Police was quick to insist that Whitesell’s opinion was only “philosophical.”
“Although the superintendent personally understands the theoretical argument for taxation and legalization, as a police officer with over 40 years of experience he does not support the legalization of marijuana,” a statement from the department said.
Indiana NORML board member Robin Alexander, however, said that Whitesell’s remarks gave her hope.
“We think the struggle here in Indiana is almost to and end,” Alexander told WRTV. “He’s right. He’s absolutely right, and he’s been on the force long enough to know what’s real.”
And several Indiana lawmakers also support the idea of easing marijuana prohibitions.
Democratic state Sen. Karen Tallian told The Indianapolis Star earlier this year that she would like to make marijuana legal for recreational use and Republican state Sen. Brent Steele plans to introduce a bill to reduce penalties for possessing less than five gram from a $5,000 fine and prison time to only a $500 fine.
Governor-elect Mike Pence’s (R) office insisted in a statement on Tuesday that he would oppose any attempts to make marijuana legal.
“Gov.-elect Pence opposes the decriminalization of marijuana, and he will base his decisions about the leadership of his administration on a broad range of qualifications rather than a stance on one issue,” Pence communications director Christy Denault said.
Watch this video from WRTV, broadcast Nov. 28, 2012.