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Proposal to decriminalize pot in Gary falls 1 vote short

Federal health officials are warning the public about a version of synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison that's caused uncontrolled bleeding in hundreds of people and killed several others who have ingested the tainted products.

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

Gary City Council members voted 4-4 this week on the proposal to reduce the criminal penalty for marijuana possession in the 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 tells The Times of Northwest Indiana she abstained from voting because the council’s attorney advised the council that it would circumvent state law.

Council attorney Rinzer Williams says 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.