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CBD supporters urge passage of legislation, stress education at rally



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Michelle Lennis, a co-organizer of the Hoosiers for CBD Rally, speaks on Thursday at the Indiana Statehouse about the need for awareness about CBD oil. CBD oil and industrial hemp are the focus of three ongoing bills in the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate. Emily Eckelbarger Buy Photos

Supporters of cannabidiol oil legalization gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday with a goal of educating themselves and the public on the uses and benefits of CBD oil.

Users and supporters of legalizing CBD oil and industrial hemp, two products derived from the cannabis plant that are sometimes used to treat epilepsy or other seizure disorders, gave testimonials as well as showed their support for three current CBD-related bills.

Jesse Bunnell from B-Town Botanicals talked about how his Bloomington store recently started selling CBD-related products. He said he had seen many people use it and have positive results.

“It doesn’t work for everyone, but the people who do use it should have access to it,” Bunnell said.


As House Bills 1137 and HB 1214 move to the Indiana Senate, legalized CBD oil and industrial could be available to Hoosiers soon. Emily Eckelbarger



Ashlie Kehrberg spoke on how CBD oil changed her life. 

Kehrberg said she suffered from a spinal injury that caused her legs and arms to go numb. Doctors put her on numerous prescriptions, but she started suffering severe side effects, such as insomnia and eye problems.

She decided to try CBD oil. She found that she could sleep through the night and did not feel nerve pain in her arms anymore. Kehrberg urged citizens to get educated about what the product is and isn’t.

“We started educating ourselves just like every other person in Indiana needs to do,” she said.

The Indiana House of Representatives passed two bills this week involving CBD and industrial hemp. CBD oil and industrial hemp are both products of a cannabis plant and can be used for similar purposes but are made from different parts of the plant.

House Bill 1137 passed unanimously through the House on Wednesday. The bill would establish a pilot program allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products. Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant with low THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The bill would allow farmers to grow the plant, which can’t get users high. Hemp can be used for a variety of purposes, including food or fuel. It also has numerous health benefits and can work to treat epilepsy and other seizure disorders. 

“What it is not is marijuana,” said Michelle Lennis, co-organizer for the event.

Lennis got emotional while speaking, saying how important this product is for so many people in Indiana.

“It’s really disturbing to see folks of stature trying to take that away,” she said.

The House also passed another bill Tuesday regarding CBD oil and industrial hemp. House Bill 1214 legalizes CBD oil and repeals a previous law that required a CBD registry.

Both House bills now move into the Senate for the second half of the session.

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, and Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville, made surprise speeches at the rally. Both have worked for and authored bills this year regarding CBD oil and industrial hemp.

Tomes said he believes more people are supporting these bills now more than ever.

Lucas said although the bills have passed, there are still a lot of people who don’t understand what hemp and CBD oil are. He urged attendees to contact their legislators to get involved.

“This issue is too important to let slip this golden opportunity,” Lucas said.

The current CBD oil and hemp legislation comes after confusion arose last session surrounding CBD oil and its uses. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law last session allowing people diagnosed with certain medical conditions, including epilepsy, to use CBD oil. 

The law, however, caused confusion over whether the product could be sold in stores. Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. announced in a Nov. 21 advisory opinion the product was illegal in almost all circumstances.

A week later, Holcomb gave Indiana State Excise Police 60 days “to educate, inform and issue warnings to retailers” and give them enough time to remove products containing CBD oil.

Holcomb announced Friday he would be extending the education period for CBD oil. He said in a Jan. 26 statement from his office this education period would allow legislators to have more time to clarify the current Indiana law. 

He added he would delay the process of issuing citations or removing CBD products from retailers until after the current session ends.

“Lawmakers have indicated they would like more time to consider proposed legislation,” his statement read.

Lelah Jerger, a co-organizer of the event, stressed the importance of contacting legislators, even if someone is only interested in the agricultural benefits of producing the product.

“Let’s stress what it’s going to do for Indiana’s economy, and then, let’s stress what it’s going to do for Hoosiers,” she said.

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