Indiana lawmakers consider 10 separate bills to legalize CBD oil

The House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee has a meeting for HB-1137, a CBD-related house bill. (WTHR Photo/Bob Segall)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Following WTHR’s months-long investigation into Indiana’s dysfunctional laws on CBD oil, state lawmakers pledged action to fix the confusion and controversy.

They have now responded with ten separate bills that would – in various ways – legalize CBD oil in Indiana. Even longtime legislators say they cannot remember the last time a single topic has prompted so many bills in a single session of the General Assembly.

"It is unusual," said Rep. Don Lehe (R – Brookston), chairman the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee who has scheduled hearings for two of the bills. "I think there is a lot of interest and support for getting something accomplished."

Ten CBD oil-related bills are being considered in the Indiana Statehouse. (WTHR Photo)
Ten CBD oil-related bills are being considered in the Indiana Statehouse. (WTHR Photo)

Talk of legalizing CBD oil is now rampant in the Indiana Senate, which is considering six CBD-related bills. Across the rotunda in the Indiana House of Representatives, four more CBD oil bills are winding their way through the legislative process.

Lawmakers are racing to beat a 60-day CBD oil enforcement moratorium imposed by the governor, who asked lawmakers to address the issue after Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an opinion in November declaring CBD oil illegal throughout the state. Thousands of Hoosiers say products containing CBD oil have helped relieve their pain, seizures, anxiety and other medical conditions without the toxic side effects of addictive painkillers. But because CBD oil comes from cannabis plants, the AG believes it violates state and federal laws pertaining to marijuana. Both marijuana and CBD oil come from cannabis plants, but unlike marijuana, CBD oil has little or no THC and causes its users to feel no "high."

CBD oil products. (WTHR Photo)
CBD oil products. (WTHR Photo)
“We knew we had to get it fixed”

The governor and AG got involved in the debate after WTHR exposed a statewide crackdown on CBD oil products by state excise police, who raided retailers and confiscated their CBD oil last spring. The raids set off months of confusion among local and state law enforcement agencies, who could not agree whether CBD oil is legal under existing state and federal law. Even now, following the AG’s opinion, the governor and several other state agencies insist that some CBD oil products are legal – a contradiction of the AG’s legal analysis. Some state lawmakers have called state’s indecision and inconsistent enforcement practices an embarrassing debacle that needs an immediate fix.

"We knew we had to get it fixed so there's a lot of great men and women up here that want to do the right thing and brought their own version [of bills] to the table," said Rep. Jim Lucas (R – Seymour), who has introduced HB 1137. The bill would not only legalize CBD oil for all Hoosiers, it would also legalize industrial hemp and all products derived from it.

"This is a home run for the production of hemp and all of its byproducts: the fibers, the stalks, the seeds, the oils," explained Lucas. "Hemp is a huge product used in manufacturing. [This bill] just blows open the market for our manufacturing and our farmers."

CBD oil at Commonwealth Extracts in Louisville, Ky. (WTHR Photo)
CBD oil at Commonwealth Extracts in Louisville, Ky. (WTHR Photo)

Like most of the CBD-related bills now pending before the General Assembly, Lucas’ legislation would legalize CBD oil products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. The bill getting the most attention in the Senate, however, would legalize only CBD oil that contains zero THC. Introduced by Sen. Michael Young (R – Indianapolis), SB 52 would also mandate strict labeling and testing to prove the CBD oil products contain no THC before they are legal to sell in Indiana.

Other lawmakers have introduced bills with varying legal requirements for retailers, doctors, manufacturers and users. Among the provisions:

  • SB 294 would allow stores to sell CBD oil only if they keep it under lock and key and purchasers would have to show photo ID and obtain a special CBD oil state-issued permit.
  • HB 1214 would expand the state’s current CBD oil registry to include not only patients who suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy, but also other medical conditions such as ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease; although it is not clear why a CBD oil registry would still be needed at all because the bill also legalizes all CBD oil products containing not more than 0.3% THC.
  • SB 370 would legalize CBD oil for all Hoosiers if the CBD oil was grown, processed and distributed under a licensed industrial hemp program, and it would require the Indiana State Seed Commissioner to aggressively promote industrial hemp as a viable crop and to and assist Indiana farmers to grow it.
  • HB 1273 would allow anyone to use low-THC CBD oil if it part of a doctor-approved treatment, and it would exempt doctors from criminal penalties if they possess or deliver CBD oil for the purposes of treating patients.

For the past week, lawmakers have been hearing testimony – some of it very emotional – from parents, farmers, doctors and other Hoosiers who want the General Assembly to legalize the product. Those lawmakers tell WTHR there is very little opposition to the idea of legalizing CBD oil – once they learn what CBD oil can do.

"We have to make sure that everybody understands what we really have and what this product is," Lehe said after a hearing on HB 1137. "It's not marijuana. I don't even want to talk about marijuana … so from that standpoint, there's quite a bit of support."

Hearing by hearing, bill by bill, that support seems to be growing.

"I think this week was a turning point for us," said Sen. Jim Tomes (R – Wadesville), the author of SB 214, which would legalize CBD oil products in Indiana that contain no more than 0.3% THC. "I'm hoping it will be. It’s incredible how many people now support this product and want to see this problem corrected. It’s unbelievable. We'll get this fixed."

The governor’s office has told WTHR it may extend the 60-day CBD enforcement moratorium to give lawmakers more time to get their bills passed. While the moratorium is in place, the governor has ordered state law enforcement officers not to seize CBD oil products from stores and not to file criminal charges related to those products.

The following list of bills explains what each piece of legislation would do if passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. (The information was last updated at 11:45 pm on 1/25/18.)

Bills Approved by Committee; Forwarded for Full Vote

Senate Bill 52

Author: Michael Young (R – Indianapolis)
Vote update:
Passed by the Senate on Feb. 5 by a 35-13 vote. Approved by the House 93-0 on Feb. 27.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – as long as the product contains no more than 0.3% THC
Would also: Permit the manufacture and sale of low-THC hemp extract in Indiana; Senate version would establish detailed labeling and testing protocols; amended House version would place responsibility on retailers to ensure the CBD oil products they are selling do not have high levels of THC and impose harsh penalties on retailers who sell CBD oil with more than .3% THC.
Would take effect: Upon passage
Summary: The original bill stated CBD products that meet a “zero THC hemp extract” standard would be legal to manufacture, sell and possess in Indiana if they meet strict labeling and testing guidelines. It has since been amended to legalize all CBD oil products that contain low levels of THC not exceeding 0.3%. Producers would be required to obtain a certificate of analysis from an independent lab showing each batch of CBD products meet the 0.3% THC limit. State law would specifically state hemp extract containing no more than 0.3% THC is not considered a Controlled Substance. The bill has also been amended to 1) eliminate the state’s CBD registry for patients with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy, and 2) declare an emergency for the bill, which means it would take effect immediately upon passage and signing by the governor instead of taking effect on July 1. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will need to be worked out before the bill goes to the Governor for his signature. (updated 2/27/18)

House Bill 1137

Author: Jim Lucas (R – Seymour)
Vote update:
Unanimously passed by the House on Jan. 31 by a 90-0 vote. Approved by the Senate Commerce & Technology Committee on Feb 15 by an 8-3 vote. Now waiting for a vote by the full Senate.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – as long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC and is manufactured under an appropriate license
Would also: Allow Indiana to implement and expand its industrial hemp program without first obtaining federal licenses and permits; repeals the state’s existing CBD oil registry
Would take effect: Upon passage
Summary: This bill legalizes CBD oil containing no more than 0.3% THC by 1) removing language in existing state law that prevents “industrial hemp commodities or products” from having the same legal definition and protection as industrial hemp; 2) stating that Hoosiers are allowed to possess, transport, sell, distribute, or buy industrial hemp or industrial hemp products as long as those products are “planted, grown cultivated, harvested, and processed” by individuals who possess a valid license issued by Indiana or another jurisdiction; and 3) stipulating that individuals who possess or sell CDB oil products covered by the law are not subject to civil or criminal action. It clarifies that CBD oil is not the same as marijuana under state law, and the bill also makes clear that CBD is not a Controlled Substance. Allows the state’s seed commissioner to implement and expand Indiana’s industrial hemp program without obtaining permits or waivers from federal agencies. Eliminates the existing CBD oil registry for certain epilepsy patients since the bill offers widespread legal protections for all Hoosiers who want to use CBD oil. (updated 2/27/18)

House Bill 1214

Author: William Friend (R – Macy)
Vote update: Unanimously passed by the House on Jan. 30 by a 93-0 vote. Approved by the Senate Corrections & Criminal Law Committee 6-2 on Feb. 27, and now awaiting a full vote by the Indiana Senate.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – as long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC, meets labeling and testing requirements, and comes from industrial hemp that is grown and processed legally. (Does not include products that can be inhaled through smoke or vapor.)
Would also:
Eliminate the current CBD oil registry; establish mandated testing, registration and labeling requirements for CBD products sold in Indiana; require the state seed commissioner to maintain a list of all CBD oil products that meet all state requirements.
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary:
Legalizes CBD oil in Indiana by removing industrial hemp and products made from industrial hemp from the state definitions of Controlled Substance and marijuana. Before they could be sold legally in Indiana, all CBD oil products would have to meet strict labeling and testing requirements to show that they were tested by an approved lab and contain no more than 0.3% THC. CBD oil that is designed to be inhaled through smoke or vapor would not be permitted. The bill, as originally written, expanded the CBD oil registry to include patients with a variety of medical conditions, but that provision was later amended to eliminate the CBD registry altogether since the expanded CBD protections granted by the bill would apply to all Hoosiers and make a registry unnecessary. (Updated 2/27/18)

Bills Stalled in Committee

Senate Bill 214

Author: Jim Tomes (R – Wadesville)
Assigned to: Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – as long as the product contains less than 0.3% THC
Would also: Repeal the CBD registry for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant seizures
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: By specifically removing CBD oil from the legal definitions of marijuana and Controlled Substance in state statute, CBD products that contain no more than 0.3% THC would be legal to manufacture, sell and possess in Indiana. The bill also repeals the existing state registry permitting CBD oil use by certain epilepsy patients suffering from treatment-resistant seizures; the registry would no longer be needed if CBD oil were legal for everyone.

Senate Bill 280

Author: Phillip Boots (R – Crawfordsville)
Assigned to: Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Unclear. CBD oil would be exempted from the state definition of marijuana.
Would also: Allow the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to find a certified lab and to set up testing protocols to ensure CBD oil products meets the 0.3% THC limit
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: Removes industrial hemp and "substances derived from the cannabis plant" (such as cannabidiol) from the state's legal definition of marijuana if the substances contain no more than 0.3% THC. Authorizes the state alcohol and tobacco commission to adopt rules concerning the testing of CBD products and the certification of lab results. While this bill would remove CBD oil from the state's definition of marijuana, it does not address whether CBD oil is still considered a Controlled Substance.

Senate Bill 294

Author: Michael Young (R – Indianapolis)
Assigned to: Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee
Hearing Held? Yes
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Stores to sell CBD oil if they keep it in a locked case and sell only to individuals on the state's CBD registry
Would also: Require the state health department to include an ID number and bar code on cards issued to individuals who qualify for the CBD registry; require individuals on the CBD registry to show their state-issued CBD registry card and photo ID to purchase CBD oil
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: The bill would not expand the legality of CBD oil in Indiana, but would establish protections for stores to sell CBD oil legally if they 1) keep the products in a locked case, 2) verify that a purchaser is a patient or caregiver registered on the state's CBD oil registry, 3) check the purchaser's photo ID and state-issued CDB registry identification card, and 4) record the purchaser's ID and registration card number in a log or electronic database.

Senate Bill 370

Author: Blake Doriot (R – Syracuse)
Assigned to: Senate Agriculture Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD legal for: Everyone – if the CBD was grown, processed and distributed under a licensed industrial hemp program
Would also: Require the Indiana Department of Agriculture to establish and support a statewide industrial hemp program; help licensed farmers obtain hemp seeds and establish at least 4,000 acres of land to be used for the growing of industrial hemp in Indiana.
Would take effect: Upon passage
Summary: This bill goes far beyond legalizing CBD oil. It would enable Indiana to follow the lead of states like Kentucky by requiring the Indiana Department of Agriculture to establish a robust industrial hemp development program, with at least 4,000 acres of land dedicated for growing industrial hemp. The department would assign an employee to assist farmers obtain hemp seeds and to get them licensed under the program. The state would also be required to promote industrial hemp (which contains no more than 0.3% THC) as a crop to farmers, promote research and development of Indiana-grown hemp, and promote the processing of that hemp into commodities. For consumers, SB370 legalizes CBD oil by 1) removing language in existing state law that prevents "industrial hemp commodities or products" from having the same legal definition and protection as industrial hemp; 2) stating that Hoosiers are allowed to possess, transport, sell, distribute, or buy industrial hemp or industrial hemp products as long as those products are "planted, grown cultivated, harvested, and processed" by individuals who possess a valid license issued by Indiana or another jurisdiction; and 3) stipulating that individuals who possess or sell CDB oil products covered by the law are not subject to civil or criminal action.

Senate Bill 371

Author: Blake Doriot (R – Syracuse)
Assigned to: Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – if the CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp and contains no more than 0.3% THC. (Does not include products that can be inhaled through smoke or vapor.)
Would also: Expand the CBD registry to include individuals diagnosed not only with treatment-resistant epilepsy, but also ALS, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, sickle cell disease or any other medical condition approved by the state department of health; establish mandated testing, registration and labeling requirements for CBD products sold in Indiana; require the state to maintain an internet website
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: The bill legalizes CBD oil by removing both industrial hemp and products derived from industrial hemp from the state's definitions of marijuana and Controlled Substances – as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC and meet new testing, registration and labeling requirements. (The bill does not legalize CBD oil that is vaped because all industrial hemp products designed to be inhaled through smoke or vapor are specifically excluded from the legislation.) It expands the CBD registry by adding several other medical conditions to the list of those that qualify, as well as allowing the Indiana State Department of Health to add other medical conditions. CBD oil products would be subject to mandated testing before they can be sold in Indiana. Requires the state seed commissioner to maintain an internet web site that lists all approved products that meet the state's testing, registration and labeling requirements.

House Bill 1150

Author: Chris Judy (R – Ft. Wayne)
Assigned to: House Courts and Criminal Code Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Everyone – as long as the product contains no more than 0.3% THC and follows new labeling and testing protocols.
Would also: Repeal the CBD registry for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant seizures
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: The bill would legalize CBD oil if contains no more than 0.3% THC and meets strict labeling and testing guidelines. It would authorize the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to adopt rules concerning the testing of CBD products and the certification of lab results. It clarifies that CBD oil is not considered a Controlled Substance or marijuana under state law. It removes legal protections granted by the state's new CBD oil registry for patients with certain medical conditions since the CBD oil would no longer be considered a Controlled Substance.

House Bill 1273

Author: Terry Goodin (D – Austin)
Assigned to: House Courts and Criminal Code Committee
Hearing Held? No
Vote update: Bill is dead. No action taken.
Would make CBD oil legal for: Anyone who is taking CBD oil with no more than 0.3% THC in connection with treatment by a licensed doctor
Would also: Exempt doctors from criminal penalties for possession or delivery of CBD oil for the purposes of treating patients; repeal Indiana's CBD registry for individuals suffering from certain forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy
Would take effect: July 1, 2018
Summary: The bill would legalize CBD oil containing no more than 0.3% THC for those who use it in connection with treatment by a licensed physician; it does not stipulate that a prescription is required. It also allows physicians to legally sell, possess and deliver CBD oil to patients who need it as part of their medical treatment. It would repeal Indiana's current CBD oil registry for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy because of more widespread protections permitting the medical-related use of CBD oil.