As its neighbors to the north, in Michigan, celebrate the passage of Proposal 1, Indiana is reeling from news of a massive drug raid that has resulted in the arrest of 120 people. Despite the legalization of medical cannabis in Illinois and Ohio and Tuesday’s legalization of adult use in Michigan, Indiana has taken few strides toward changing its marijuana laws. However, prohibition doesn’t seem to be working as an effective drug reduction strategy. Indiana has one of the worst drug problems of any U.S. state, ranking 14th in the nation, in 2017, for substance abuse. The drug raid police announced Thursday largely involved an illegal methamphetamine trafficking ring. Of the 191 charges police are bringing against 120 people, only three are marijuana-related.
Police Break Up Indiana Meth Ring in Sweeping Raid
Johnson County Indiana’s prosecutor and law enforcement officials announced the results of a massive drug raid conducted Thursday. The raid involved cooperation between federal forces, Indiana State Police and several local police departments. Altogether, police had warrants for 120 people, whose names and faces they released to the media. Around midday, police had arrested about half of the suspects. Arrests are ongoing through the afternoon and evening. So far, police say they’ve made arrests without incident or harm to suspects or officers.
Police made sure to point out that the vast majority of the charges involve dealing varying quantities of Methamphetamine. Heroin and cocaine trafficking made up several of the other charges. Two people received marijuana-related charges. One person, 19-year-old Jordan Fulkerson, received felony meth charges and two misdemeanor marijuana charges. The third marijuana charge went to Jennifer Drury, who is up against a felony-level charge for dealing marijuana and meth.
Prosecutors, Police Praise Arrests as Indiana Grapples With Drug Crisis
In 2016, 794 people died in Indiana from opioid-related overdose deaths. Between 2012 and 2016, the state saw a large increase in heroin-related overdose deaths, which jumped from 114 to 297. And over the same period, synthetic-opioid related deaths increased from 43 to 304. In 2015, doctors in Indiana wrote 109.1 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons, totaling roughly 5.8 million prescriptions. Incredibly, Indiana also has the most known meth labs in the country according to one count, at 1,800. Tackling a drug crisis like that requires a combination of public investment in treatment and rehabilitation and reducing punitive, carceral approaches to drug offenses.
But speaking about Thursday’s massive drug raid in Indiana, Johnson Country prosecutor Brad Cooper praised the arrests, saying they were the only way to solve the problem. “I hear all the time people say you can’t solve the problem with arrests and that’s crap,” Cooper said. “That’s the only way you solve it. We want to get the poison off the streets.” Moreover, Cooper says that because the individuals swept up in the raid resort to other crimes to finance their drug habits, their arrest will lower crime rates. Sources reporting on the raid did not speak with any of the defendants or their families or neighbors.
Will Indiana Start to Move Toward Legalization
Pressure from its bordering states could begin to move the needle on marijuana policy in Indiana. Back in March of this year, Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill that clarified the legality of hemp-derived CBD oil. The legislation came after a series of raids and property seizures by police who targeted retailers who had been selling hemp CBD oil for years.
In October, an interim committee of lawmakers began meeting to discuss approaches to legalizing medical cannabis in Indiana. One of the lawmakers on that committee, Rep. Jim Lucas, had a brief moment of celebrity when he revealed that he had travelled to Colorado to study the issue. While speaking about his experience with Colorado cannabis, Rep. Lucas said it was unquestionably “the best night of sleep I’ve ever had.”