INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would legalize the purchase and sale of cannabidiol oil, a low-THC product derived from the cannabis plant, passed 37-12 Tuesday through the state Senate.
House Bill 1214, one of two CBD bills, would legalize low-THC hemp extract products if they have no more than 0.3 percent of THC. It also establishes requirements for the manufacture, labeling and sale of CBD products.
The bill, as well as Senate Bill 52, will likely be consolidated and debated again during conference committees, which will meet before the session ends next Wednesday.
Despite criticisms from other senators, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, said the product is not illegal.
“No one’s going to be harmed, but it has a great deal of benefit,” Young said.
He added the bill creates safeguards in terms of manufacturing and labeling the product. He said all products have to be labeled correctly to show where they come from and what is in them.
If manufacturers do not follow the 0.3 percent THC rule, and if retailers know they are selling products with a concentration above the threshold, the manufacturers and retailers will be charged with a Level 5 Felony. It could result in one to six years in jail. If someone knowingly purchases a product that has more than the legal amount of THC, they will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. It could result in up to one year in jail.
Young said he has tried to think of every issue surrounding the bill.
“I’ve worked very hard with the prosecutors to make sure we have the safeguards,” Young said.
Still, some senators expressed concerns with legalizing the substance.
Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, said the bill goes way beyond putting CBD oil in the hands of those who need it. She is worried about allowing the manufacturing of CBD oil in Indiana. She said the governor’s office and state police do not want to legalize the manufacturing of CBD oil in Indiana.
“Indiana is just not equipped,” Houchin said.
A bill that would have allowed Indiana farmers to grow industrial hemp was amended last week to only allow a study committee to look into the possibility. The change came after Gov. Eric Holcomb said he felt Indiana was not quite ready for the manufacturing of industrial hemp.
Young said companies can still produce CBD oil without producing industrial hemp. It can be imported from other states.
Questions also arose regarding CBD oil as a Schedule 1 drug. The Drug Enforcement Agency considers cannabis a Schedule 1 substance, which is defined as drugs not currently accepted in medical use that have a high potential for abuse. Debate still continues in the courts as well as state legislatures over whether cannabidiol is a also a Schedule 1 drug.
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said there are other parts of the cannabis plant that do not have high amounts of THC, and therefore, should not be considered illegal.
“CBD oil is not cannabis,” Taylor said. “They’re not the same thing.”
Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, said he did not understand why so many people opposed this bill.
“There’s a human component to this, too,” Tomes said. “There’s people out there right now who don’t have the luxury to live a healthy life like we are.”
CBD oil can be used to treat chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, autism and epilepsy.
Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, agreed, saying many people in the state already use CBD oil to treat numerous conditions. He said right now in Indiana, these people are considered criminals, but they should not be.
“They’re using it,” Stoops said. “They find it’s effective. It’s not a drug. Let’s pass this bill and take a step forward into another century.”
Young said there is no evidence of problems in other states that have legalized CBD oil. It is not harmful, he added.
“There is no reason to vote no except to say no,” Young said.
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