EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The push to legalize and regulate marijuana use in Indiana has been a highly-debated topic for years, along with discussions over reducing penalties for individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana. Eyewitness News reached out to the three candidates for Vanderburgh County Prosecutor to share their thoughts.

Diana Moers, republican candidate for Vanderburgh County Prosecutor, says she would like to see marijuana become less of an offense, but agrees it is not the biggest problem our area is facing.

“You know, we obviously have problems with fentanyl, and violent crimes right now,” says Moers.

Democratic candidate Jon Schaefer shares a similar viewpoint, and believes marijuana should be legalized in the Hoosier state.

“I don’t personally believe marijuana is a gateway drug anymore than alcohol is a gateway drug.”

Schaefer also believes there should be more marijuana diversion programs instead of citing or ticketing an individual for small possession amounts.

Current prosecutor Nick Hermann says Vanderburgh County has adjusted the way they approach marijuana use, namely with law enforcement, and says discretion occurs on a case by case basis from a potential arrest, all the way to the prosecutor’s office.

“You look at somebody’s prior criminal history, you look at if it’s their first offense, or have they committed a bunch of felonies and then come across your desk,” explains Hermann. “There are a lot of things that can go into that.”

Moers, Schaefer, and Prosecutor Hermann all agree that discretionary decisions on a case-by-case basis is the key in determining the severity of marijuana-related charges. However, in terms of the legalization, all three candidates also agreed that from a prosecutor’s standpoint, they would have to follow the laws that are written by Indiana legislators.