INDIANAPOLIS — There no longer is any question over whether Hoosiers are permitted to use cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, as a natural remedy to treat health ailments.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 52 that explicitly legalizes CBD oil in response to an official opinion by Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill that suggested the marijuana-related product could not be sold or consumed in Indiana.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly overwhelmingly overruled the attorney general's November announcement by approving the CBD legislation 97-0 in the House and 36-11 in the Senate.
Holcomb said after enacting the measure: "I'm grateful for the General Assembly’s hard work to bring me a bill to address the needs expressed by our citizens."
Under the new law, which took effect immediately, there are no limitations on CBD oil sales through June 30 provided the product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the cannabis compound that produces a "high."
Beginning July 1, CBD oil retailers only can sell CBD products that comply with new state testing and packaging requirements, including certification that the product is derived from industrial hemp and not marijuana.
"Indiana lawmakers delivered a bill that ensures Hoosiers who benefit from CBD oil can access it," Holcomb said. "The bill provides much needed clarity, with labeling requirements and a 0.3 percent THC limit on CBD products."
The new law also provides that retailers who knowingly sell marijuana disguised as CBD oil can be charged with a Level 5 felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
An individual who possesses marijuana made to look like CBD oil may face a Class A misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., who clashed with the attorney general over the CBD oil McDermott regularly provides to his aging dog, Teddy, pronounced the new law "outstanding."
"I know a lot of people, human and non-human alike, that take CBD oil for ailments, a lot of arthritis issues," McDermott said. "I think it's a real great alternative."
The mayor said the will to legalize CBD oil was in the General Assembly all along as demonstrated by its 2017 law that authorized CBD oil use by Hoosiers with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
He said Hill's official opinion that CBD oil sales and use remained illegal likely led to the new law that leaves no doubt about its status.
"The fact that we even had a controversy this year was just because of Curtis Hill," McDermott said. "He wants to be loyal to Donald Trump and the hard right-wing by taking a hard stance on something that couldn't get you high even if you drank a whole bottle of it. Never made sense to me other than political grandstanding.
"I appreciate the governor and the Legislature doing the right thing, and making a natural, herbal remedy available for pain relief."
An email message sent to Hill's spokeswoman seeking comment on the new law was not returned Wednesday evening.
Two Northwest Indiana legislators were among the sponsors of the law: state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes; and state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.