Indiana Cannabis Laws
Is Cannabis Legal In Indiana?
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Is recreational cannabis legal in Indiana?
No. Recreational cannabis use is illegal despite growing support from Indiana citizens, with lawmakers making little progress in legislation. Possession of cannabis of any amount is illicit. If someone is in the vicinity of cannabis activity but not actively using, they can be charged with a misdemeanor crime.
This past month, State senator Karen Tallian introduced two bills (SB 87, SB 223) to decriminalize and regulate cannabis for adults. Tallian, who has been a cannabis advocate for the past decade, states her frustration with Indiana’s strict laws, “we give young people criminal records for something that is legal in, what, a third of the nation.” She hopes to persuade the Illinois Senate by showcasing the progress made in bordering states, and their favorable economic outcome of opening a recreational market.
Is Medical Marijuana legal in Indiana?
Yes, but for restricted patients and products. While in 2017, the governor of Indiana signed into law HB 1148, a bill that establishes a low-THC (less than 0.3% THC) program for severe seizure disorders. This law has been incredibly limiting, and only a small percentage of patients in need.
Are CBD products legal in Indiana?
Yes. While personal cannabis cultivation is illegal in Indiana, with the passing of Senate Bill 357 in 2014, Indiana was one of the first to authorize industrial hemp production for commercial and research purposes. Since then, Indiana’s University of Purdue has led one of the most visible industrial hemp cultivation programs in the country.
Purdue’s research helped with the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, in which hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC.
Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.
Indiana’s Cannabis Timeline:
1913: Cannabis Prohibition starts in Indiana.
1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.
1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession.
1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth”.) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.
1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.
Classification of Controlled Substances:
Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use
Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use
Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins”.
1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.
2013: Indiana Governor Mike Pence opposed a bill to reduce cannabis penalties.
2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
2014: Indiana Senate Bill 357 authorizes the production of industrial hemp for commercial and research purposes.
2017: Indiana HB 1148 legalizes CBD oil for epilepsy patients.
2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.
2020: Two bills to decriminalize and regulate adult-use cannabis are introduced to Illinois’ state senate.