Indiana Excise Police claim it’s illegal, but local store decides to sell CBD hemp oil anyway

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It’s back!

CBD capsules, oils and creams are once again being sold at Georgetown Market. The small natural grocer on the city's northwest side is trying to send a loud message.

“We need to make a stand to let people know that we believe that CBD should be available in all 50 states,” said Rick Montieth, owner of Georgetown Market.

Grocery stores all across the state pulled CBD products off their shelves after Indiana State Excise Police raided a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market store near Greenwood in June. State agents confiscated thousands of dollars in CBD because CBD comes from cannabis plants -- the same plant that produces marijuana, and marijuana is illegal in Indiana.

But CBD supporters argue CBD oil does not come from the same type of cannabis used in medical marijuana; it comes from industrial hemp which has little or no THC, the active compound in marijuana that causes a high. CBD does not produce any high sensation at all, and thousands of people in Indiana are using it to find incredible relief from excruciating pain.

“I think it really helps,” said Angela Hopkins, who is recovering from a serious fall that broke her left ankle in three places. CBD has allowed her to reduce her intake of opioid pain pills by 75%. “I was skeptical at first, but without the CBD, I couldn’t stand the pain and had to increase my pain pills again,” she told WTHR.

“It makes a huge difference,” agreed Edie Caito. The Center Grove mother suffers from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes severe muscles pain. “I took home my first bottle and within five days, I felt almost normal for the first time since 2007. I finally found me after all these years, and I didn’t have to use pharmaceuticals to get there.”

While the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission believes CBD is illegal, Georgetown Market says it is no longer concerned.

“After watching your first investigative report, we saw that the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission was taking enforcement against businesses that it licenses for alcohol and tobacco,” Montieth said. “We don't sell alcohol or tobacco. We're not licensed by the ATC, so I made the decision to put it back on our shelves.”

Another store stops selling

That argument has not helped Samantha Youngblood.

She owns an animal healthcare center in Greenfield, where she recently started selling CBD hemp oil products to help dogs and cats who suffer from pain.

Samantha Youngblood sells hemp oil at her pet healthcare store in Greenfield.
Samantha Youngblood sells hemp oil at her pet healthcare store in Greenfield.

A few weeks after putting the products on her shelf, she got a surprise visit from an Indiana Excise Police officer.

“She said, ‘You know, this is illegal to sell,’ and that I needed to pull everything off my shelf and out of this store or I could get arrested,” Youngblood told WTHR. “I was obviously shocked because I would never carry anything illegal. But I talked with my attorney and he said I should just pull the products to be safe. Something like that could shut down a small business, and I can’t afford to take that chance.”

This pet care center sells no alcohol or tobacco, but the state's alcohol and tobacco excise police told Youngblood to stop selling CBD oil anyway. The product is sold in all other states and anyone can buy it online – even in Indiana.

But you can't buy it from Youngblood’s store, Fresh Thyme markets or many other stores around Indiana, which still feel threatened by the raid conducted by the ATC and State Excise Police.

“Why is this wrong and why is it okay for some people to sell it and some other people not to sell it?” Youngblood asked. “This has zero THC in it. Zero point zero percent. None. No one can get high from it. It just helps animals and people feel better, and it’s completely safe. I think the confusion is people don't understand the difference between marijuana and hemp.”

That confusion is not going away.

A week after WTHR first reported on the Fresh Thyme raid and asked the governor’s office for clarification on state law regarding CBD, the governor’s office has not responded to that request. The attorney general’s office has not yet provided any answers, either.

"The AG's office is aware of this issue and gathering details and looking into it," a spokesman told 13 Investigates Monday afternoon.

In the meantime, Fresh Thyme and many other stores are still waiting to put CBD back on their shelves.

Georgetown Market is stocking up. Because of the high demand, it is now running low on its most popular CBD products.

“We’ve placed a large order and hope to have it in by the end of the week,” Montieth told WTHR. “We hope customers will be patient, but we’re pretty happy to have it back on our shelves. We’re confident in our decision, and we think that’s a really good thing.”

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