Amid the legal ambiguities about the status of cannabidiol (CBD), authorities in one state that has cracked down on preparations of the salutary cannabinoid are now admitting that they themselves are confused.
Weeks after Indiana State Excise Police declared products containing CBD oil to be illegal—and carrying out a raid on an Indianapolis-area natural goods store to prove it—state officials say they don’t actually know if CBD oil products are illegal or not.
“It’s a complicated issue, and we’re trying to work through it and figure out what the rules are,” said David Cook, chair of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, according to local WTHR. “We’re trying to determine the legality. There’s differing legal opinions whether it’s legal or not, so until those issues are resolved, we’ve placed a moratorium on confiscating it.”
The state attorney general’s office, contacted by WTHR, also punted.
“There is a lot of confusion about this topic even within state government—agencies trying to figure out what is legal and what is not legal,” said spokesman Jeremy Brilliant. “The role of the attorney general’s office in all of this is to clarify that.”
Pressed by WTHR, Brilliant only said he did not know how long it might take to provide that clarity, while assuring that the attorney general is working diligently with other state agencies to look for answers.
Strangely, reports did not emphasize that in April, Indiana passed a highly restrictive medical marijuana law, officially allowing patient access to CBD oil with 0.3 percent or less THC. And neither the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, nor its enforcement arm the Excise Police, actually seem to have authority here, as cannabinoids are neither alcohol nor tobacco. The law specifically gives oversight to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Interestingly, the law took effect July 1—exactly two weeks after the Excise Police raid.
Meanwhile, despite the June 14 raid on the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, in which thousands of dollars worth of merchandise was seized, CBD products do remain available in the Hoosier State.
“We need to make a stand to let people know that we believe that CBD should be available in all 50 states,” said Rick Montieth, owner of Georgetown Market.
And indeed, a scientific (if not political) consensus is building for that. New Jersey’s Montclair Patch was one of the few media outlets to note this week’s determination by the US Food & Drug Administration that CBD has “beneficial” properties.
The FDA finding, published in the Federal Register reads: “Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy. In the United States, CBD-containing products are in human clinical testing in three therapeutic areas, but no such products are approved by FDA for marketing for medical purposes in the United States.”
The statement noted that CBD (like all known cannabinoids) is listed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act—the category for substances with no legitimate medical uses.
However, U.S. law is supposed to conform to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1961 international treaty overseeing drug policy worldwide. And the FDA statement notes that CBD is currently under study by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD). The findings of the ECDD could result in CBD’s resecheduling at the international level. If this were to happen, it would be difficult for the United States to hold out.
And despite the overzealous actions of the Indiana Excise Police, the feds have been taking a hands-off approach to interstate commerce in CBD products—even under Trump. A final WTHR report this week noted that CBD oil is now back on the shelves at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.