Senator Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, filed three bills last month as part of her marijuana reform package in the Senate. Two of the bills are CBD related and make changes to Indiana’s hemp laws.

One bill would reverse a stipulation in Senate Enrolled Act 516 that made smokable hemp or cannabidiol (CBD) illegal, and another would create a single cannabis compliance commission to regulate the licensing of CBD products.

Senator Tallian’s third bill in the reform package would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

Indiana’s hemp laws are “a mess”

Senator Tallian called Indiana’s hemp laws “a mess,” stating that making the smokable product illegal is contradicting current federal law since the smokable hemp flower is legal across the United States.

“SEA 516 made hemp a legal crop in Indiana but in the same stroke also made all hemp illegal if it can be smoked,” Tallian said in her statement. “What does my bill do? It cleans up this mess.”

The debate against smokable Indiana’s hemp is that the product is too similar to marijuana in looks and smell. Law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between the two unless the product is sent to a lab for testing.

Last year an Indiana federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District of Indiana issued an injunction against the law after several CBD companies sued the state.

Republican Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour, also called hemp laws a “hot mess.” He defended keeping smokable Indiana hemp legal during the 2019 session but lost his amendment when the bill went back through the Senate before becoming law.

“We have people who build their businesses around it (hemp), the law makes them criminals and deprives them of their livelihood.”

Lucas told the Tribune

In addition to this, Senator Tallian said there needs to be one commission to regulate everything CBD-related.

A hemp advisory committee was created last year to provide advice to the state seed commissioner regarding hemp and CBD, but there isn’t anyone whose particular function is to regulate CBD licenses, labeling or to test the product for safety and cannabinoid content.

The cannabis compliance commission would be modeled after tobacco and alcohol commissions, Tallian said. This falls in line with the recent bills passed by both New York and Florida.

Tallian stated that Indiana needs to look at bigger picture solutions for cannabis laws.


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