Senate committee passes billing legalizing sale of CBD oil

A bill that would allow Hoosiers to purchase a marijuana-derived product over-the-counter from any retailer is headed to the full Senate floor.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee has passed Senate Bill 52, which would allow any person to purchase cannabidiol, or CBD, oil without a prescription or medical reason, if the oil contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. Purchasers would not have to put their names on a registry, but all CBD oil containers would have to be labeled and certified as having no more than 0.3 percent THC.

The original language of SB 52 allowed for the sale of CBD oil with zero THC, but based on a two-hour session of testimony last week, the bill passed Tuesday defines “zero THC” at the 0.3 percent limit. Additionally, an amendment to the bill would provide immunity to state contractor employees who test positively during a drug test, but have legally purchased the oil.

Sen. Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, raised concerns about that amendment, questioning how employers would know when an employee tests positive for THC – the substance that causes the euphoric effects of marijuana – because of the legal use of CBD oil. The bill’s author and committee chair Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, acknowledged that issue did raise questions, but said he think it’s important for immunity to be available to employees abiding by the law. Bray suggested that issue could require further study to come to a more concrete answer to his question.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, celebrated Tuesday’s version of SB 52 as a “common sense bill,” considering it would allow consumers to purchase CBD oil over-the-counter and without having to put their name on a state registry. Another of Young’s bills, SB 294, would allow patients on a state registry to purchase CBD oil to treat certain cases of epilepsy if they can prove their presence on the registry. Testimony was also heard on SB 294 last week, but Young did not bring it before the committee for a vote on Tuesday.

The committee passed SB 52 with a 7-2 vote, with Sens. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, and Eric Koch, R-Bedford, opposing it. The vote comes after Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion last year that said CBD oil remained illegal in Indiana, despite legislation in 2017 that allowed the oil to be used to treat intractable epilepsy.

SB 52 now heads to the Senate floor, where it can be amended and passed.

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