Epileptics in Indiana are now allowed to possess marijuana extract to treat their seizure disorders. However, the confusion over the new law sparked a crackdown, making the product unavailable for those that need it. The Indiana State Excise Police confiscated the CBD oil from 57 stores across Indiana.
In five weeks’ time, the excise police took over 3,000 products from store shelves, according to Indy Star. It wasn’t until late June until the products stopped being removed from shelves. Public officials don’t know who to point fingers at so they’re pointing them at each other.
Those wishing to use CBD oil for treatment-resistant epilepsy must be listed on the state’s registry. The CBD oil must have no more than 0.3-percent THC to be legal within the parameters of Indiana’s law.
The confusion, so far, lies with the Indiana Excise Police. Their interpretation of the law is that it is illegal to possess CBD for any other reason. However, the Indiana State Police and a handful of lawmakers point out the 2014 law that took industrial hemp-derived products off of Indiana’s controlled substance statute.
Some stores throughout the state have carried CBD products for over a year. They’ve also carried CBD vape and CBD candies.
Representative Jim Lucas said, “It sounds like we’ve got an agency that is out of control.”
Those using CBD for their child’s epileptic disorders were quite upset over the Excise Police’s actions. They’re supposed to be able to purchase this product and administer it to their children without fear of prosecution.
Brandy Barnett, parent of an epileptic child, said, “That’s what makes you feel awful. You feel like you worked so hard to try to do something for people. I even heard from a few people that our legislation messed it up for everybody, and that obviously wasn’t our intent.”
The intent of lawmakers was to allow those with epilepsy or those with children with epilepsy to possess and use this medicine without fear of prosecution. The intent was not for a statewide crackdown to ensue.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is now getting involved. A legal review is in the works so that a formal opinion on CBD products can be formed.
Jeremy Brilliant, spokesperson for AG Hill, said, “There’s been confusion even within state government. Is this legal? Is this illegal? The goal is to bring clarity to this issue.”
Senator Randy Head said, “It was controversial topic due to fear from law enforcement that medical marijuana would be made legal. Simply getting the law passed that we did was a herculean effort.”
Passing legislation to allow CBD oil was like pulling teeth in the Indiana Legislature – it passed by a very narrow margin.
Representative Bill Friend said, “All we said was desperate parents that were seeking treatment would be free from prosecution. SO the law is really silent on the legality.”
Given that so many agencies in Indiana are confused on the law – clarification is expected in the near future. However, that clarification may not come until the next legislative session. Emails from the Governor display even his confusion of the new law. Some storeowners mention that the law enforcement officials conducting the “raids” didn’t seem to know what they were looking for. None seemed to have much knowledge on CBD, according to Jeff Shelton (owner of one of the stores products were taken from).
Parent, Brian Bennett, who treats his son’s epilepsy with CBD oil said, “In my opinion, those seizures are all illegal. That’s a clear abuse of power.”
The Superintendent of the Excise Police, Matt Strittmatter sent an email on July 27 issuing a moratorium on CBD product seizures from health food stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. The excise police will, however, continue to consider edibles, pills, vape and any other consumable CBD product illegal – when sold in convenience stores.
What effect has this had on Indiana residents who rely on CBD products?
According to Shelton, “Most of the people we sold it to are very, very elderly, chronically in pain, people with cancer or that are epileptic. So it was very disheartening to tell those people. You had people crying in your shop.”
A debate and serious discussion regarding CBD products in Indiana is in the foreseeable future – until then, the right hand still doesn’t know what the left hand is doing but stores are offering CBD products for sale again, and will continue to do so until they are told otherwise or until actual medical marijuana legislation is passed in Indiana.