Law allowing marijuana-derived oil spurs Indiana crackdown

File photo of medical cannabis oil

INDIANAPOLIS — A new Indiana law that allows people with certain types of epilepsy to use a marijuana-derived oil for treatment has spurred a statewide crackdown, making it more difficult for those seeking the product to obtain it.

Lawmakers passed legislation in April allowing certain patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy to use cannabidiol. The substance, also known as CBD, can’t get a person high. The law requires the products to contain less than 0.3 percent of THC, the active ingredient of cannabis.

Studies 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.

Data from State Excise Police show the agency confiscated more than 3,000 CBD products from nearly 60 stores during a five-week span after the law was passed, but abruptly halted those raids in late June after concerns over the legality of the busts surfaced, the Indianapolis Star reported .

Lawmakers and state officials now can’t agree on whether the substance is legal in Indiana.

An email that the newspaper obtained through a public records request shows that an excise police commander believed the law indicated they could begin confiscating the product if it wasn’t being used for treating epilepsy.

Some lawmakers and state police officers say CBD was already legal because of a 2014 law that removed industrial hemp products from the state’s controlled substance.

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

Advocates of the law who use CBD products to treat their children’s seizures were upset about the confiscations. They hoped the law would allow people with epilepsy use the product without fear of prosecution rather than make it more challenging for those with health issues to obtain CBD oil.

“That’s what makes you feel awful. You feel like you worked so hard to try to do something for people,” said Brandy Barrett, who has a 10-year-old son with severe epilepsy. “I even heard from a few people that our legislation had messed it up for everybody, and that obviously wasn’t our intent.”

The state’s Attorney General Curtis Hill is reviewing the matter and plans to issue a formal opinion on the legality of CBD products.

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