Indiana was one of the first states to make marijuana illegal, as far back as 1913. Today, the Hoosier State remains a ‘tough on crime’ state that levies significant penalties for possession of even small amounts of THC-infused product and offers few exceptions for medical uses. It’s also considered an anti-pot ‘island’ since several states surrounding it have grown more accommodating to medical cannabis or adult-use cannabis over the last decade. Cannabis reform even became a campaign issue in the 2020 election, when some Indiana candidates took a more compassionate stance and suggested decriminalizing personal use, while others didn’t want to yield from a strict law and order/anti-drug position.
Not so for hemp-based CBD products, which are generally more available to residents and visitors and have been for at least three years. But there are a variety of restrictions governing their cultivation, extraction and sales, and failure to follow the rules can also lead to especially punitive actions including fines as high as $10,000 and the seizing of a retail license.
Current rules require clear labeling of any CBD product sold in the state. The label should include the product name and the company. It should also include a web site and a scannable QR code or bar code. People who scan it can see more details about the product, including:
- Its batch number
- Its batch size
- When the batch was harvested
- Any expiration date
- What company performed the extraction
- Any ingredients such as fertilizers and preservatives, including what company created each one
- Any contaminants such as heavy metals
- A Certificate of Analysis from an independent lab sharing purity and quality
- Prescence and percentage of THC, which must be under the .3 percent legal threshold
These Indiana QR code requirements were included in Senate Enrolled Act in 2018, which helped clarify confusion about what was defined as legal CBD and illegal cannabis, especially with regards to products sold in health stores.
The previous year, the state approved a CBD-only medical patient program and an industrial hemp program. But by many reports, it led to legal uncertainty at all levels, starting from the top.
In November 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state’s attorney general directed the state’s excise department and Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to perform spot checks and seize any CBD materials in stores that contained any amount of THC, claiming that any THC made the product marijuana, which means it’s illegal at a state and federal level. This led to publicized raids of dozens of health stores and grocery stores, confiscation of CBD health supplements and even a few arrests for marijuana possession. This also led to angry retailers who felt they were complying with the .3 percent THC threshold.
Other police action in that timeframe included one arrest of a consumer with CBD oil in his car, and threats to remove a girl from her parents home because the parents gave her CBD to help her pain from a tumor. By this time, even law enforcement was confused and divided. The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission requested that the excise department stopped enforcing potential CBD violations, and also told state police that CBD possession isn’t a crime.
The Drug Enforcement Agency didn’t provide much clarity either – it affirmed that marijuana, including CBD, was illegal but discouraged state officials from arresting and prosecuting people using CBD to help their family’s health such as parents with sick children. The DEA also discouraged the state’s raids against stores selling CBD products, and encouraged them to focus more on combatting opioids and prescription drug abuse.
Although the 2018 legislation provided much clarity to the status of CBD oil, there are still some legal gray areas for hemp flower. It looks and smells similar to THC flower (commonly known as marijuana plants) but falls under the .3 THC level so wouldn’t have any significant mental or physical effects if smoked, vaped or used in food and beverages, other than the general relaxation that comes from CBD oil. Law enforcement, including K-9 units, have difficulty telling both plants apart.