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CBD oil one step closer to legalization

INDIANAPOLIS — CBD oil could soon become legal in Indiana, four years after the issue was first brought up in the state legislature. 

Senate Bill 52, a bill that legalizes CBD oil with low levels of THC, passed unanimously through the state House of Representatives on Tuesday. The bill is one of two CBD-related bills still in the Indiana General Assembly.

A similar bill, House Bill 1214, also passed Tuesday through an Indiana Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. If the full Senate passes it and concurs with changes made to Senate Bill 52, the consolidated bill will be sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb who could sign it into law.

House Bill 1214 would legalize CBD oil and further define the terms "industrial hemp" and "CBD oil." It passed 6-2 through a Senate committee. The bill defines "CBD oil" as having no more than 0.3 percent of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, at least 5 percent of cannabidiol and no other controlled substances. The bill defines "industrial hemp" as including parts of the Cannabis sativa plant. 

The bill would also repeal a law put into place last year creating a CBD registry.

In the Senate committee meeting Tuesday, lawmakers and those who testified in favor of it seemed optimistic that CBD oil would officially become legal this session.

"I think we’re going to get this done this year,"  Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, the bill's author, said.

Friend said his goal is to make CBD legal to use, possess and market in the state of Indiana.

Numerous people spoke in favor of the bill, including veterans who use the product to help with PTSD and Hoosiers with family members who use the product to address symptoms of different seizure disorders. Retailers and members of the agricultural community also advocated for passage of the bill.

Josh Hendrix, director of business development at CV Sciences, Inc., testified in favor of the bill. CV Sciences creates CBD-based pharmaceuticals. However, he did worry about language in the bill that would require CBD and hemp products to be labeled with a QR code. Consumers could scan the code to view what the contents of the product were and where it came from, and law enforcement officers could scan the code to see exactly how much THC is in the product.

"That really isn’t feasible for companies our size," Hendrix said. 

He said with the number of different batches of CBD products his company makes, it would be difficult to create an individual QR code for each one.

Brandy Barrett, whose son suffers from Dravet syndrome — a type of epilepsy which causes seizures — said CBD has been life-changing for her and her family. She added her son has seen an 80 percent reduction in seizures since using CBD oil.

"We are so thankful for that," she said.

Last session, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a different bill into law allowing people with epilepsy to use the product, which is said to help with some of the related symptoms. Many people questioned whether or not this meant the product was legal to sell in stores. 

However, last November, Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. announced that the product was illegal in almost all circumstances, creating confusion for some Hoosiers. Hill wrote products for human consumption that contain CBD are unlawful both in Indiana and on a federal level. 

A week later, Holcomb gave Indiana State Excise Police 60 days “to educate, inform and issue warnings to retailers” and give retailers enough time to remove products containing CBD oil. Since then, however, he announced he would be extending the education period for CBD oil, allowing legislators time to clarify the law.

"My goal with this bill is to clear up the confusion about CBD oil and make it available to all people in discomfort," Friend said.

Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, was one of two senators to vote against the bill. She said the bill is illegal under Hill and for that reason, she felt she needed to vote against it.

She added she had not heard testimony from anyone in the medical community explaining the scientific benefits behind the bill. 

"I hope the medical community will support the efforts from all of the individuals who came forward today," Glick said. 

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