Indiana lawmakers are taking a step in the right direction as the House unanimously voted on Thursday to study the possibility of legalizing medical cannabis before the legislative session next year.
State lawmakers had voted 94-0 to pass a resolution by Rep. Matt Lehman, which calls for an interim study of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis by a legislative commission. There were no arguments presented against the resolution and even the most conservative of the lawmakers voted in its favor.
Don’t get us wrong. The resolution they passed is far from being an endorsement of cannabis. It is merely a sign that Indiana lawmakers are open to the idea of legalizing the medical use of the substance. Many also consider this a baby step that may finally lead to Indiana joining the other legalized states.
There are currently 29 other states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Nine of these states, plus Washington D.C., have already legalized recreational cannabis.
Separate cannabis legalization bills
Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, introduced a separate bill legalizing medical cannabis. So far, however, this bill has not yet been scheduled for committee hearing. Lucas is an outspoken advocate of cannabis and was the first GOP lawmaker in at least five years to propose such legislation.
There are also more than 10 other pending bills that have something to do with the legalization and regulation of CBD or cannabidiol. CBD is an active chemical component found in cannabis that is non-psychoactive and does not produce a high while still providing a host of health benefits.
Legalizing the sale of hemp and CBD oil
Also on Thursday, a House committee passed House Bill 1137, which is a bill that legalizes the sale and the possession of hemp. HB 1137, which also includes CBD oil, earned a unanimous 12-0 vote.
It can be recalled that in November 2017, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an opinion declaring that CBD oil is illegal in the state – except for patients who are suffering from treatment-resistant epilepsy. He made his declaration after much confusion over a passed law intended to allow epilepsy patients to use CBD oil.
However, Gov. Eric Holcomb gave stores enough time to pull their CDB oil from their shelves, as well as allowed lawmakers the time they needed to study then product then pass clarifying legislation. He said that for the first 60 days after Hill issued the opinion, the excise police would merely issue warnings to stores selling the oil. This enforcement moratorium kept authorities from arresting and charging CBD oil sellers.
A week before it is set to expire, the enforcement moratorium was extended by Holcomb. He announced that excise police will not take any action against businesses still carrying CBD oil. The extension will be in effect while lawmakers are in session until March 14 this year.
Rep. William C. Friend, a Republican from Macy, proposed legislation that cuts the confusion surrounding CBD oil. Called House Bill 1214, this legislation passed committee unanimously on Wednesday, Friend said. He also added that Bill 1214 clarifies state law by stating that it is a legal substance and that it should be categorized as an herbal supplement, whose THC levels are less than three-tenths of a percent and therefore does not give users a high.
It can be recalled that last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a clarification and classified CBD — including CBD oil — as a schedule I conrolled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that the federal government considered it harmful, without any therapeutic benefits, and therefore prohibits its use.
The DEA stated that CBD oil is illicitly produced by illegal manufacturers and that its actual content is uncertain.