Last summer, the hemp world was rocked by news of a series of raids performed by Indiana State Excise Police on retailers of cannabidiol (CBD) products. After meetings with US Hemp Roundtable attorneys, the police returned the products to the shelves and promised no more law enforcement actions. However, the state’s Attorney General opined that CBD sales were illegal.
The public outcry that resulted from the raids mounted. Politicians listened. And an aggressive legislative lobbying campaign led by Roundtable board member CV Sciences and local Indiana hemp activists resulted in overwhelming votes for CBD legalization in the House and Senate.
Late last night, a compromise version, Senate Bill 52, passed the House unanimously and the Senate by a 3 to 1 margin. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
As a result, Indiana will become one of the first states to explicitly legalize hemp-derived CBD for retail sale. (Hemp-derived CBD, of course, already has strong legal protections – read more here.)
As with much of the sausage-making process which is politics, Senate Bill 52 is not perfect. Most concerning is a potentially burdensome provision that requires after July 1 that product packaging include a bar code or a QR code that, when scanned, provides information on the product’s content, including THC testing. While CV Sciences and many strong pro-hemp legislators fought to exclude this provision, the Senate sponsor, powerful Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael Young, insisted on it, and would have otherwise killed the bill.
However, as discussed more in this article, the bill requires the legislature to come back this summer and study hemp and hemp products more generally – we believe this will result in fixing this issue, and even stronger legislation down the road.
Despite Senate Bill 52 not being everything the industry wanted, this is an important step – a conservative state, filled with anti-marijuana legislators, overwhelmingly passed legislation to legalize the retail sale of CBD – mostly because they knew if they didn’t, their constituents would be furious. This offers tremendous optimism for the future of the hemp movement.