A new Indiana CBD law makes the supplement legal for all residents without a prescription, ending months of confusion. It could also serve as a model for other states looking to address the legality and purity of CBD oil.
Last year, Indiana state police interpreted a state law designed to help people with epilepsy access CBD as a mandate to raid vendors who were selling it for other purposes. While CBD is known to relieve symptoms of severe epilepsy, its benefits are numerous and its popularity is growing fast nationwide. Legislators insisted they’d never intended to spur a police crackdown, necessitating the new bill which was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday.
Now, “any consumer in Indiana by state law can consume hemp products with CBD without any repercussions,” said Brian Furnish, a hemp farmer from Kentucky and the president of the US Hemp Roundtable. Furnish served as a consultant to several Indiana legislators and their staff during the process of writing and passing the bill to legalize CBD.
While many experts insist that CBD is already legal under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, some government agencies have disagreed, leaving the supplement in a gray area. The Indiana CBD law, which is the first in the country like it, also imposes new labeling requirements on CBD which could help consumers make more informed purchases.
FLAWED EPILEPSY LAW LED TO POLICE RAIDS AND CONSUMER ANXIETY
Over the summer, police raided 57 stores across Indiana, seizing over 3,000 products from a variety of vendors from smoke shops to natural food stores, according to a September 2017 investigation by The Indianapolis Star. The Star’s investigation also revealed that the Indiana State Excise Police were using the epilepsy law as their justification for the raids.
It soon became clear that further legislation was necessary, especially after the state attorney general wrote an opinion agreeing that the supplement was illegal under federal law, despite many hemp advocates and lawyers arguments to the contrary.
The 2014 Farm Bill made industrial hemp legal again in the U.S. as part of state research programs. Lawyers for the hemp industry have argued that its language is broad enough to include market research, such as sales of hemp-based products like CBD. Other legal precedents protect the legality of hemp foods. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration insists that CBD remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, leading to a recent, ongoing lawsuit by the hemp industry. There have also been a handful of police seizures of CBD products in other states.
While CBD users haven’t faced legal repercussions, consumers in Indiana were understandably anxious about being able to access this beneficial supplement and the raids were extremely costly for vendors. Fortunately, the Governor halted police seizures of CBD once it became clear the legislature intended to address the matter.
HEMP EXPERTS HELP POLICYMAKERS CRAFT NEW INDIANA CBD LAW
An 8th-generation tobacco farmer who has watched the tobacco industry disappear, Brian Furnish helped lobby for both the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill and the hemp research laws in his home state of Kentucky.
“Hemp has allowed us to stay on the farm and its allowed a lot of farmers to stay on the farm, and it’ll continue to do so in all of the agricultural states I hope can get to grow it eventually,” he told us.
Furnish was originally invited to testify to the state senate about his experience as a farmer in support of a bill to legalize hemp growing, which he expects will pass in a future session of the Indiana General Assembly. However, he soon found himself called upon to talk to lawmakers about CBD as well.
“I met the Governor’s office, his legislative staff. I met the Senate staff, I met the House staff, and they started commenting and asking a lot of questions about what they should do and shouldn’t do.”
After consulting with experts like Furnish, the result was Senate Enrolled Act 52, a remarkably progressive bill which allows essentially unrestricted access to CBD for residents. After some debate, the final bill doesn’t explicitly legalize CBD manufacture in the state, but a future hemp growing bill could address this.
INDIANA’S CBD LABELING REQUIREMENTS COULD PROTECT CONSUMERS & FARMERS
The Indiana CBD law also imposes new labeling requirements. Every CBD product sold in Indiana stores will be required to have a QR code linking to detailed information about the product’s strength, purity and origins.
According to another IndyStar report, some in the industry called the labeling requirements an undue burden. Furnish had a different opinion. Stressing that he was speaking only as an individual hemp farmer (rather than in his role as president of the Hemp Roundtable), he suggested the requirements will make consumers safer and encourage them to purchase CBD made from U.S-grown hemp.
“A QR code helps protect the American farmer and it highlights the American farmer.” Furnish grows hemp for Ananda Hemp, whose products are “fully traceable from seed to shelf.”
As an unregulated supplement, the CBD industry has been plagued by low quality CBD products. Reputable vendors already offer third-party lab results and clear information about the purity and strength of their products, so Furnish believes the new requirements will be relatively easy to comply with.
FURNISH: INDIANA CBD LAW WILL MAKE THE STATE A LEADER IN CBD SALES
While CBD sales may have dipped in Indiana during the months of uncertainty, Furnish expects explosive growth in the future.
“Indiana will be the number one CBD selling state in the United States probably pretty soon for most companies,” he said.
Not only will consumers feel confident about the safety of the products they’re buying, but the media coverage likely led many to educate themselves about CBD.
“People start seeing that CBD is in the news and hemp is in the news and it’s not marijuana and it creates an educational process that we couldn’t possibly spend enough money to pay for, and it’s happening for free.”
While the US Hemp Roundtable hopes to assist other states where police have raided CBD vendors, he hopes that won’t be necessary for long. Furnish suggested that Indiana’s CBD law could be a model for other states to adopt, just as Kentucky’s agriculture laws can guide states that are considering hemp growing programs.
“I just think hemp’s the crop of the future especially for farmers in my area of the country,” Furnish concluded.
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