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Bill restricting CBD oil set for hearing; legalization proposals wait

January 11, 2018

The fight over CBD oil in Indiana has led lawmakers to introduce numerous bills that would legalize sale of the product derived from marijuana plants, but the only measure currently scheduled for a hearing at the Statehouse would limit CBD sales to people who put their names on a state registry. The bill will be heard next week.

The raft of CBD legislation comes after Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an opinion in November that restricted the sale of CBD oil to people on a state registry to receive it for treatment of epilepsy. Gov. Eric Holcomb days later gave stores 60 days to pull CBD oil from their shelves or risk raids on the product by Indiana State Excise Police.

Hill’s opinion said that if the products contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, they are illegal under state law. Proponents of CBD oil say the product doesn’t make them high, but rather relieves pain and a provides benefits beyond reducing epileptic seizures without harmful side effects. 

As of Thursday, the lone CBD oil bill scheduled for a hearing in the Indiana Legislature would mandate bar-coded cards for people on the CBD oil registry and would permit stores to sell CBD oil only to people on the registry. That bill, Senate Bill 294 authored by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, will be heard by the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, is a co-sponsor of that bill, but he also wrote legislation that aims to deliver on his pre-session pledge to make CBD oil “as easy to obtain as baby aspirins.” Tomes’ Senate Bill 214 would legalize CBD oil containing no more than 0.3 percent THC, at least 5 percent cannabidiol, and no other controlled substances. That bill also was assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Also in the upper chamber, Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, introduced Senate Bill 280 that would permit the sale of CBD with a THC level of less than 0.3 percent. Boots’ bill also would authorize the state agencies to adopt rules to test and certify compliant products.

Young also has introduced related legislation, Senate Bill 52, which would legalize “zero-THC hemp extract.” That bill has shuffled between committees and is currently assigned to the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee, which has yet to schedule a meeting.

In the House:

  • Rep. Chris Judy, R-Fort Wayne, proposed House Bill 1150, which would legalize CBD oil with no more than 0.3 percent THC, provide rules for state agencies to test and certify compliant products, and make violation of rules related to the sale of CBD oil a Class B infraction.
  • House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, authored House Bill 1273, which would allow CBD oil to be used under a doctor’s supervision.

Both measures were assigned to the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code, but neither had been scheduled for a hearing as of Thursday.

Separately, none of the at least four bills that would legalize or reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession have yet been scheduled for hearings in the legislature.

Committees in this year’s short session of the General Assembly face tighter deadlines to hear and move bills to their full chambers. Little more than three weeks remain before the deadline for final passage of bills from their houses of origin. House bills must pass by Monday, Feb. 5, and Senate bills must clear third reading by Tuesday, Feb. 6.

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