Attorney general: Indiana law did not legalize CBD oil

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) — Lawmakers passed legislation in April allowing certain patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy to use cannabidiol, but the state attorney general on Tuesday issued an opinion that the law did not legalize the substance.

Also known as CBD, cannabidiol can’t get a person high. The law required the products to contain less than 0.3 percent of THC, the active ingredient of cannabis. Studies have suggest that compounds in CBD products can help lessen the severity of seizures. Many parents of children who have treatment-resistant epilepsy testified in support during legislative hearings last year.

“All we said was desperate parents that were seeking treatment would be free from prosecution,” Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, who carried the bill in the House, said in September in an Associated Press article. “So the law is really silent on the legality.”

Attorney General Curtis Hill had been asked to issue an advisory opinion of the law.

“There is no doubt, as a matter of legal interpretation, that products or substances marketed generally for human consumption or ingestion, and containing cannabidiol, remain unlawful in Indiana as well as under federal law,” Hill said in a news release Tuesday.

Utah resident Doug Rice administers the CBD oil Haleigh’s Hope, a cannabis compound used by his daughter Ashley at their home in West Jordan, Utah, on June 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“Indiana law does allow for a limited and focused exception created by House Enrolled Act 1148, signed earlier this year, aimed at individuals battling treatment-resistant epilepsy. This legislation pertains specifically to individuals properly added to the newly created Indiana State Department of Health Cannabidiol Registry.

“Cannabidiol is classified under state and federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance because marijuana (Cannabis sativa) is a Schedule I controlled substance. State and federal laws that place cannabidiol in the category of a Schedule I controlled substance do not hinge on the degree or prevalence of pharmacological effects of a substance on a person.

“The manufacture, possession, use and sale of cannabidiol — and substances, food products or edible oils containing cannabidiol — are unlawful under both Indiana and federal law. Any individual possessing a substance containing cannabidiol — or anything packaged as such – in plain view of a law enforcement officer is subject to having that property seized. Only upon showing that one meets the limited conditions under Indiana law could one expect to avoid being prosecuted under Indiana law. Further, no one in Indiana is authorized to sell cannabidiol or any substance containing cannabidiol under state or federal law.”

Hill said his office worked “weeks” on the opinion he issued Tuesday.

“This issue has drawn public attention this year following law-enforcement actions against Indiana stores marketing and selling ‘CBD oil,’ a substance delivered to consumers in dropper bottles, sprays or mists — all generally to be taken orally.

“My task at this juncture is not to express my personal view of what I believe the law ought to stipulate. My task, rather, is to help provide clarity regarding what the law already says as written.”