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Senate committee votes to legalize CBD oil for all Hoosiers

State Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, at center, presides Tuesday over a meeting of the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. The panel approved legislation authorizing all Hoosiers to use CBD oil.

INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Curtis Hill's recent attempt to stop Indiana residents with epilepsy from using a marijuana-derived product in their treatment soon could lead to all Hoosiers being permitted to try cannabidiol, or CBD oil, for whatever ails them.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law voted 7-2 for legislation authorizing the manufacture and retail sale of hemp extracts, such as CBD oil, so long as they contain less than 0.3 percent THC — the marijuana component that produces a "high."

State Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, the committee chairman and sponsor of Senate Bill 52, said his plan eliminates the complicated registry system currently required before Hoosiers with treatment-resistant epilepsy can purchase CBD oil.

"It will be open to everybody who wants to purchase, whether they have epilepsy or not," Young said.

Hill, a Republican, claimed in a November official opinion that despite a 2017 state law authorizing epileptic Hoosiers to use CBD oil, the product remains illegal under federal law and Indiana retailers selling CBD oil are at risk of arrest and prosecution, as well as police seizure of their CBD inventory.

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In response, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately directed the state excise police to hold off on enforcing the law in accordance with Hill's opinion for 60 days so lawmakers would have time to rewrite the statute.

The governor is expected to extend that order in the coming days to run through at least the remainder of the 2018 legislative session.

Young's proposal skirts the federal substance abuse laws that Hill claimed Hoosiers using CBD oil are violating by relying on an exemption for industrial hemp manufacturing that was included in the 2014 federal farm bill.

In a statement following the committee vote, Hill said: "It’s evident that legislators are working very diligently on this issue. We support their continuing efforts to clarify their position in this area of law."

Similar legislation authorizing the general use of CBD oil by all Hoosiers is pending in the Republican-controlled House.

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Financial Affairs Reporter

Dan has reported on Indiana state government for The Times since 2009. He also covers casinos, campaigns and corruption.