Holcomb extends CBD oil order through legislative session

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Indiana Lawyer on 1/26/2018 by Rob Burgess

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday extended the moratorium on seizures of CBD oil from retailers’ shelves — as well Indiana State Excise Police’s education period on products derived from cannabis — while lawmakers consider bills regulating those products.

“I said back in November that I was open to extending the education period on CBD oil products to give legislators the time they need to add clarity to Indiana law,” Holcomb said. “Lawmakers have indicated they would like more time to consider proposed legislation. For that reason, I am extending the education period for CBD oil products and the moratorium on issuing citations or removing products from retailers until the legislative session concludes.”

CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is derived from the cannabis plant and contains very little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Proponents argue CBD oil is effective as a treatment for many ailments, including neuropsychiatric disorders.

Attorney General Cutis Hill released an official opinion Nov. 21 advising Indiana residents that unless they are registered on the Indiana State Department of Health Cannabidiol Registry, use of CBD oil can still result in prosecution.

Hill’s office declined to comment on Holcomb’s announcement Friday.

The state’s legislative and regulatory history with CBD oil has been active, and this legislative session is no exception.

Senate Bill 357 removed industrial hemp products from the state’s controlled substance schedule when it became law in 2014.

House Enrolled Act 1148 approved CBD oil for use with adult or juvenile treatment-resistant epilepsy and was signed by Holcomb in April 2017.

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council publicly issued a letter in early November condemning any cannabis legalization efforts “in any form, for any purpose.” Holcomb subsequently announced that stores in the state had 60 days to remove CBD oil from their shelves.

Meanwhile, the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee this week passed Senate Bill 52, which would allow any person to purchase CBD oil without a prescription or medical reason, if the oil contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. Purchasers would not have to put their names on a registry, but all CBD oil containers would have to be labeled and certified as having no more than 0.3 percent THC. An additional amendment would provide immunity to state contractor employees who test positively during a drug test, but have legally purchased the oil. The bill now heads to full Senate floor.

Another piece of legislation also filed by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, Senate Bill 294, would allow patients on a state registry to purchase CBD oil to treat certain cases of epilepsy if they can prove their presence on the registry. The committee heard testimony on this bill, but has yet to vote on it.

Multiple other CBD oil bills were filed in the legislature this session, none of which have been scheduled for committee hearings.