CBD oil could soon become harder to access in Indiana.
To put it mildly, we were disappointed when Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an opinion on November 21 suggesting CBD oil is illegal for most state residents to use. Although his words don’t carry the force of law, the statement could lead to more crackdowns on CBD vendors and leaves consumers under a haze of legal uncertainty.
In September, we wrote about how an Indiana state law meant to improve access to CBD for epilepsy sufferers actually led to raids on shops selling CBD oil. But things were looking up after police realized they couldn’t determine the supplement’s actual legal status, and products were back on the shelves in many shops.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is an extract made from industrial hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant. But unlike psychoactive cannabis, or marijuana, it doesn’t cause people to feel high. In fact, thousands of people have found it offers benefits to their health — for example, by reducing the inflammation of arthritis — while leaving them clear-headed enough to perform their usual, everyday tasks.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests CBD oil is safe, causes few side effects, and offers numerous benefits. Many experts insist CBD is legal to use under current U.S. law, but Hill’s opinion can only serve to renew the uncertainty over a supplement that we believe should be available to all.
IS CBD LEGAL IN INDIANA? DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ASK
“There is no doubt, as a matter of legal interpretation, that products or substances marketed generally for human consumption or ingestion, and containing cannabidiol, remain unlawful in Indiana as well as under federal law,” Hill wrote in his advisory opinion earlier this month.
In actuality, however, there is considerable doubt, with many insisting that CBD should be and may already be completely legal.
One of the most remarkable discoveries is that CBD seems to help some people with epilepsy, even if their epilepsy has proven difficult to treat in other ways. Like a growing number of states, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law in April intended to make it easier for epilepsy sufferers to access CBD.
But, after the law passed, state excise police began raiding dozens of grocery stores and shops in the state, confiscating some 3,000 products according to an investigation published in September by the Indianapolis Star. Public outcry halted police raids as legislators, store owners, and CBD users opposed unintended consequences of new law. CBD products returned to Indiana stores. But, the attorney general also promised to weigh in, which brings us to his new, controversial statement.
For decades, industrial hemp was completely illegal in the United States, just like all forms of the cannabis plant. Then, in 2014, Obama signed a Farm Bill which legalized industrial hemp for research purposes, allowing each state to set the rules for hemp research within their borders. Follow up legislation banned the federal government from wasting resources prosecuting anyone participating in this program.
“This may be the most ridiculous thing Indiana has ever done” – Jon Webb
DEA threats don’t negate 2014 Farm Bill’s legalization of hemp-derived CBD. Legal experts support hemp products and imports. The CBD industry has repeatedly promised to fight any future crackdowns on its products in court. It’s very important to note that, despite the disagreement over CBD’s legality, no individual CBD users have been put in legal jeopardy. Attorney general: CBD possession in plain view may lead to property seizure, but not personal arrest.
Despite this, fear and uncertainty are inevitable. Enforcement interpretation and reactions to the law will depend on individual law enforcement agencies and officers.
INDIANA RESIDENTS DEMAND FULLY LEGAL CBD: HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP
Understandably, Indiana residents quickly objected to the opinion, both online and in the media. Jon Webb, a columnist for the Indiana Courier & Press called the attorney general’s decision “nonsensical.”
“This may be the most ridiculous thing Indiana has ever done,” Webb wrote.Webb argues CBD’s likely legality in Indiana; police stop raids. Epilepsy patients lack legal access without distribution mechanism. Increased police threat looms. Webb wrote:
“To recap: The Indiana State Police says CBD is legal. The attorney general says it’s illegal – unless you’re included on a registry that would you allow to buy it, even though you can’t buy it because the attorney general says it’s illegal.
Everybody got that?”
We’re not legal experts, but we support the legalization of CBD in Indiana and beyond. No CBD crackdown proposed, but clarity needed from legislators to protect users from police overreach.
7,000 petition signatures urge Indiana to fully legalize CBD. While petitions can sometimes help, we encourage Indiana residents to reach out directly to their legislators for the most impact. Outside of Indiana, we also recommend contacting your Senators and Representatives and asking them to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, a bill that would completely legalize industrial hemp nationwide.
Unfortunately, until bills like this pass, these kinds of legal disputes over CBD will continue to appear. Positive shift in hemp perception indicates eventual nationwide legalization for the beneficial plant.
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