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Is CBD oil legalization finally on the cards in Indiana?

Indiana’s total confusion over its CBD laws has been well-documented over the past year or so, but after all the twists and turns, there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel for those in favor.

Many share the frustration of Jim Tomes, a Republican state senator, at the current situation. The law says that CBD oil is legal, but that hasn’t stopped repeated raids in recent months from state law enforcements. Vast quantities of CBD products have been seized from health stores and grocery stores, with no consensus on whether their actions have been lawful or not.

Tomes is fed up of the confusion, and Governor Eric Holcomb hasn’t helped matters with his apparent lack of understanding over legislation that he signed back in April 2017. Tomes has filed a bill with the goal of making CBD as “easy to obtain as baby aspirins.” Like many CBD-related issues in Indiana, it sounds good on paper, but will this bill finally legalize CBD oil in the Hoosier state for good?

Will they or won’t they?

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Tomes simply stated that he wanted to clear up any doubts and “just make this product legal.” But anyone who has followed CBD policy in Indiana over the past few months will know that CBD oil is already supposed to be legal.

HB 1148, which was signed by Governor Holcomb in April 2017, effectively allowed access to CBD products for qualified patients, whose use of such extracts had been authorized by their physicians. Those part of this program would then be exempt from criminal prosecution.

In terms of what products are now permitted, Indiana has a classic ‘CBD-only’ law, which only allows products containing less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Moreover, extracts must contain a minimum of 10% CBD. Lawmakers wanted to ensure that Indiana citizens could not acquire such products and use them for recreational purposes.

However, what HB 1148 doesn’t do is allow for any CBD cultivation within Indiana, or provide any means of access to CBD products, even for qualified patients. Without the necessary regulatory framework, Indiana’s “legalization” of CBD oil is effectively meaningless. The hope is that Senator Tomes’ bill can address these uncertainties and holes.

Police raids causing havoc for vendors

Full-scale CBD oil legalization in Indiana is, for now, largely dependent on Tomes’ bill succeeding in Indiana’s House and Senate.

Indiana State Excise Police have been spot-checking stores stocking CBD oil since the middle of 2017. Excise police are responsible for enforcing laws set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission – many have wondered whether they are acting outside their jurisdiction by seizing CBD oil.

An investigation by local TV claimed that CBD confiscations had been occurring all over the state, but that the police were acting without seeking the explicit approval of the governor’s office, Indiana’s attorney general or other important law enforcement bodies.

However, this story is in direct conflict of Gov. Holcomb’s request that excise police should randomly check on stores vending CBD. Holcomb’s decision apparently came after Indiana Attorney General Hill concluded that CBD products were indeed still illegal.

Indystar reported that Holcomb had ordered for “normal, periodic, regulatory spot checks” to confirm that the CBD oil products being sold did not contain more than the legal 0.3% THC limit. That, given the legislation Holcomb signed in the previous April, was fair enough.

Stores that were not complying with the THC threshold would then be given 60 days to either sell their stock or remove the products in question from their shelves. However, it appears that excise police did not give stores the required 60 days before starting their confiscations.

Excise police argued that the law said only qualified patients should have access to CBD oil, but since the state had provided no way for these patients to obtain the oil, the only way they could acquire them is through purchasing at health and grocery stores.

State lawmakers prepared to take on governor and attorney general

In introducing a new bill intended to increase access to CBD, Senator Tomes is making a clear break from the positions of Gov. Holcomb and Attorney General Hill. Providing the bill can get widespread bipartisan support, CBD’s legality in Indiana should soon be assured.

Tomes’ bill aims to clarify that CBD oil is not a “controlled substance” and that the oil itself and its derivatives are completely legal. Tomes has the backing of many of his constituents, who have found relief with CBD oil. Furthermore, CBD oil is a much cheaper and safer alternative to opiate-based prescription painkillers.

The bill still needs to make it through the House, the Senate and the governor’s desk, but the “turmoil”, as Tomes puts it, over CBD oil in Indiana could soon be over.

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