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Indiana’s state government remains confused on the legal status of CBD

Confusion continues to reign in Indiana, with state officials now even admitting that they’re unsure of the legality of CBD products, just weeks after a raid on a grocery store which saw hemp-based CBD oil seized.

Indiana State Excise Police raided a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in the Indianapolis region, using the statute that it’s illegal to sell “fake drugs” to consumers as reasoning for seizing the hemp-derived products.

However, it appears that Indiana law enforcement has mixed up hemp CBD and marijuana-derived CBD, which was recently made legal as medicine for selected ailments and will soon be available to patients providing they have a doctor’s recommendation.

The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission were initially supportive of the raid, but Chairman David Cook has conceded that it’s a “complicated issue”, as reported by local NBC affiliate station WTHR. Cook notes the various opinions on the legality of possessing and selling hemp-based CBD oil, adding that law enforcement will refrain from seizing it until the confusion has been cleared up.

WTHR also challenged Indiana’s state government, reaching out to the state attorney for their view.

Jeremy Brilliant, spokesman for Indiana’s state attorney general said that the state government was also confused about what is and isn’t legal, before adding that it’s the job of the attorney general’s office to bring clarity to the matter.

He also said that the attorney general was cooperating with state agencies in an attempt to find answers, but that there was no timeframe for when the office may reach a conclusion on hemp-based CBD’s legal position.

But is it really the job for Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and the Excise Police to restrict or grant access to cannabinoid products, given that CBD is neither alcohol nor tobacco?

The medical marijuana law passed in Indiana in April 2017, as limited as it is, may shed some light. The finer details indicate that it is the Indiana State Department of Health that has the authority to make decisions on CBD oil products containing less than 0.3 percent.

However, the Excise Police’s raid of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market happened in mid-June. The aforementioned legislation didn’t come into place until a fortnight later on July 1.

That raid was the only one of its kind, with other vendors in Indiana continuing to sell these CBD products without trouble. But the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market lost out on several thousand dollars’ worth of hemp CBD products in the raid, and has not been compensated.

Georgetown Market, which also operates in the Indianapolis area, were bullish in an interview with WTHR, making clear that they will keep offering CBD oils and creams to their customers.

Owner Rick Monteith spoke of the need for the community to “make a stand” and push forward on the belief that CBD should be legal and accessible in every US state.

Momentum may be swinging Monteith’s way, with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently declaring for the first time that CBD has “beneficial” qualities. For a federal government agency to speak positively about CBD is unheard of, but maybe this will be a foundation for long overdue federal legislation.

The FDA recognizes that CBD has been “beneficial in experimental models” for neurological disorders such as epilepsy (e.g. Dravet’s syndrome), in a report which featured in the Federal Register. Clinical testing of CBD products on humans is now underway in the United States and positive findings there could pave the way for future FDA approval. However, at present, the FDA doesn’t deem CBD to have medical purposes despite using the term “beneficial” to describe it.

Furthermore, the statement reasserted that CBD continues to be classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Substances on this list are deemed to have no medical uses. Removing CBD from Schedule I will be the first step, as this will help increase accessibility for users and researchers.

But there’s another twist, concerning the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty from 1961 on global drug policy which the United States is meant to be legally bound to. The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) is currently researching CBD. America would, in all likelihood, have to reschedule CBD if the ECDD determines that CBD has medical uses.

There’s more good news than bad for CBD. The Indiana incident was very unusual, with the feds largely taking a backwards step on CBD and concentrating on other areas. They won’t give up their anti-marijuana agenda altogether – at least not yet.

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