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home : most recent : statewide implications December 12, 2017


11/23/2017 7:41:00 PM
COMMENTARY: Well, Indiana messed this one up

Jon Webb, Evansville Courier & Press Columnist

“Our federal government continues to burden us with overreaching rules and directives that suggest that government knows what’s ‘best for us.’”

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill wrote that on his campaign page. Judging by his actions, I guess overreach is only bad when the federal government does it.

In a nonsensical decision issued on Tuesday, Hill declared that CBD oil – a non-psychoactive cannabis extract that can treat everything from anxiety to inflation to epilepsy – is illegal.

His reasoning is something special. He said CBD is a narcotic because it comes from the cannabis plant.

“Simply put, cannabidoil is a Schedule 1 controlled substance because marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance,” he wrote. The law “(does) not hinge on the degree or prevalence of the pharmacological effects on a person.”

So CBD oil doesn’t get you high – nor pose any danger – but it’s still an illicit drug because it comes from a plant that renders an illicit drug. Keep an eye out, bakeries, because by that logic, poppy seed muffins are illegal. After all, heroin is derived from the poppy plant,

I guess we should ban Coca Cola, too, since it’s made from the coca leaf: the same plant that gives us cocaine. Who would have thought the convenience store clerk around the corner was the local equivalent of Pablo Escobar?

Hill’s decision caps months of confusion in Indiana. After the legislature passed a law this spring making CBD legal for epilepsy patients who are included on a state registry, excise police busted 60 stores that were selling it to the general public. 

Problem was, CBD oil was likely already legal thanks to the legislature removing industrial hemp products from the state’s list of controlled substances (CBD is largely made of hemp oil). That was enough for the Indiana State Police to let CBD slide.

Hill did say that epilepsy patients included on the registry could still buy CBD. But there’s a problem with that. “It is unclear how those patients would obtain the oil since it would be illegal to sell it in the state, under Hill's interpretation,” the Indy Star wrote on Tuesday.

To recap: The Indiana State Police says CBD is legal. The attorney general says it’s illegal – unless you’re included on a registry that would you allow to buy it, even though you can’t buy it because the attorney general says it’s illegal.

Everybody got that?

This may be the most ridiculous thing Indiana has ever done. And there’s stiff competition for that crown.

Not even store owners who sell the stuff know what to do. A shopkeeper I talked to who asked to remain anonymous said he didn’t know if he was breaking the law or not. He certainly hadn’t been contacted by the state.

All this is just another example of Hill’s backward attitude toward marijuana, which falls somewhere between "Reefer Madness" and a third-grade teacher leading a DARE meeting in 1983.

Allowing his prejudice to spill over into CBD is not only ludicrous, it’s irresponsible. There are many parents who would love to treat their child’s epilepsy with CBD. Hill can claim his decision doesn’t affect that, but if the state’s oafish handling of CBD’s legality is any indication, that registry won’t be running smoothly anytime soon.

Just a couple weeks ago, Indianapolis mother Lelah Jerger told the Indy Star that Riley Hospital for Children reported her and her husband to Child Protective Services after they decided to treat their 20-month-old daughter’s seizures with CBD. CPS dropped the case, but only after state Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) intervened. Not every family will be that lucky.

Hill’s decision will do nothing but create more confusion. It will strip the extract from the hands of those who need it and spark costly excise raids on health food stores – raids that will be paid for with taxpayer dollars.

In the 2018 session, the state legislature should remove any doubt and legalize CBD for good. As far as Hill goes, if he really wants to fight government overreach, he should start with his own arms.

Related Stories:
• Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill finds cannabidiol illegal in state
• Speakers at Indiana attorney general's symposium bash any legalization of pot
• Indiana Attorney General makes statement on CBD
• Indiana Attorney general's statement adds to confusion over CBD oil
• U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams supports studying medical marijuana

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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