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Indiana’s CBD Mess: Crackdown One Day, Apology the Next

Maureen Meehan

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In April, Indiana lawmakers passed a house bill that allows people to use cannabidiol (CBD) and calls for a registry for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant epilepsy. The bill was meant to usher in a life-saving situation for many people—especially children—but the entire project quickly deteriorated into statewide chaos and overreach by a police force that didn’t know what it was doing.

Police Go On Anti-CBD Rampage

The new law indeed spurred an insidious and willfully ignorant crackdown, making life difficult for those seeking much-needed medicine. Police raids saw the confiscation of thousands of hemp-based products, which contained less than 0.3 percent THC.

According to local sources, the busts abruptly stopped in late June, after concerns over their legality surfaced. Now, the State Excise Police seem to be changing their tune, having learned that the items they confiscated did not have any THC in them at all.

While lawmakers and state officials still don’t totally agree on whether CBD is legal or not in Indiana, an email obtained by the Indianapolis Star indicated that a certain police commander thought the CBD/epilepsy law meant they could confiscate CBD products if they were not being used to treat epilepsy.

Hence the police went about pulling over 3,000 CBD products off the shelves in nearly 60 stores during a five-week rampage. Meanwhile, other lawmakers and state police officers acknowledged that CBD was already legal because of Indiana’s 2014 hemp law, which removed industrial hemp products from the state’s list of controlled substances.

New Directions or More Confusion?

More recently, a press release published on September 16 by the police said: “After a review of the situation, the Indiana State Excise Police will not confiscate CBD oil products from stores unless the products clearly violate Indiana law.”

It continued: “We will continue monitoring this issue and remain prepared to take enforcement action whenever appropriate.”

Indiana’s Attorney General, Curtis Hill, is reviewing the matter and plans to issue a formal opinion. Perhaps while his Honor is at it, he could also clarify the exact meaning of a few words in the police statement: “unless the products clearly violate Indiana law.”

Time is of the essence. It would be great for parents treating their epileptic children with CBD products not to have to worry about prosecution or be forced to deprive their children of the medicine they need.

“That’s what makes you feel awful. You feel like you worked so hard to try to do something for people,” said the mother of a boy suffering from severe epilepsy. “I even heard from a few people that our legislation had messed it up for everybody, and that obviously wasn’t our intent.”

“The legislation had messed it up for everybody”—in the end, that might be the clearest statement of all.

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