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State AG Deems Cannabidiol Illegal Except for Epilepsy Patients

Steve Burns

A decision from Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill regarding cannabidiol, or CBD oil, could impact those who already use the hemp-derived extract for pain relief or other medical benefits.

In an advisory opinion issued Tuesday, Hill says CBD is illegal for people in Indiana to possess unless they suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a law legalizing the use of CBD for the treatment of those conditions earlier this year.

The opinion also says the manufacture and sale of CBD is illegal under state and federal laws.

“It is the opinion of the Indiana Attorney General that the purchase, possession, use and sale of cannabidiol, and substances, food products or edible oils containing cannabidiol are unlawful under both Indiana and federal law,” Hill says in the opinion.

Confusion over the legality of CBD stems from a 2014 Indiana law that legalized industrial hemp as long as it contains 0.3 percent or less THC. Many in the state believed that law made it legal to purchase CBD and some stores started stocking it on their shelves.

Hill says in his advisory opinion CBD is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, which is defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says legislation might be needed next session if people allowed to use CBD oil can’t buy it from anyone in the state.

“We’ll try to figure out what’s going wrong, if in fact it has, dig deeper into the Attorney General’s ruling but it’s something I think, if he’s right, we’ll need to fix,” Long says.

Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) carried the CBD oil bill last session. He says lawmakers contemplated the idea that those who are legally allowed to use CBD oil might have to buy it from out of state.

But he says any changes to existing law will be difficult in the short, roughly 10-week, upcoming session.

“Time is certainly a factor when you’re working a bill and it took all session last year to be able to get both chambers to the fact that they could agree to something,” Head says.

The 2018 session begins in January.

Miriah Mershon started giving her six-year-old son Jameson CBD oil about four months ago to treat his Dravet syndrome, which is a type of epilepsy. In that time, she’s seen a dramatic decrease in both the frequency and intensity of her son’s seizures.

Hill’s ruling means families like the Mershons won’t be able to buy CBD in Indiana, but Mershon already orders the extract her son uses from Colorado.

“We’ve gotten to the point where the results are so amazing that we will do whatever we have to do in order to obtain it for our son if that means I have to make a trip to actually purchase it on site and drive back from Colorado,” Mershon says.

Mershon says while her family won’t be affected by Hill’s announcement, she knows plenty of Hoosiers that don’t have epilepsy who use CBD and have found it effective.

“I’m just glad that my son is still going to be able to use this at this point, and I will continue to fight for those who want to get the same relief that we have,” she says.

This story originally appeared on WFIU News