Senate advances CBD legalization bill

Hoosiers are one step closer to having unrestricted access to cannabidiol, or CBD, oil after the Indiana Senate passed a bill that would allow CBD use by all Indiana residents, not just those with certain illnesses.

Senate Bill 52 passed the Senate with a 35-13 vote on Monday after roughly 40 minutes of discussion and debate. The measure would expand legislation passed last year — which permitted patients with certain types of epilepsy to purchase the substance if their name was on a state registry — to allow all Hoosiers to purchase CBD oil that contains no more than 0.3 percent THC.

Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, authored SB 52. He told senators Monday that the 2017 legislation did not legalize the sale of CBD oil in Indiana, which meant patients whose names are on the state registry were forced to travel out of state to purchase the oil. Young’s legislation would legalize the sale of CBD oil in the state while also allowing all Hoosiers, even those without epilepsy, to purchase it. 

“After (the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee) heard testimony,  we couldn’t figure out a good reason why other citizens couldn’t have it,” Young said Monday.

SB 52 would require each bottle of CBD oil sold in Indiana to undergo laboratory testing to ensure the substance contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, a level consistent with the federal 2014 Farm Bill, Young said. Each bottle would also be outfitted with a QR code that police officers could scan to review the bottle’s lab report.

Though the language of SB 52 was designed around the 2014 Farm Bill, Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said federal legislation has not removed industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, nor has it altered the Controlled Substances Act. To that end, Leising cautioned the senators against endorsing the legislation when the federal government has not yet approved CBD oil for general use.

Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, however, urged his colleagues to consider the anecdotal evidence and committee testimony regarding the healing, pain-relieving properties of CBD oil. Similarly, Karen Tallian, D-Portage, claimed to have a box of published clinical trials demonstrating the effective of the marijuana-derived substance.

Further, Young said he has not read about anyone dying from the use of CBD oil. And considering the substance has already been approved to treat intractable epilepsy, the senator said SB 52 would not change much about Indiana law.

“It’s already legal,” he said.

SB 52 now advances to the House of Representatives, which unanimously passed a similar legislation, House Bill 1214, last week.

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