News, Politics

Indiana Causes Confusion By Legalizing and Banning Hemp at The Same Time

November 19, 2020 11:00 am ET
Indiana Causes Confusion By Legalizing and Banning Hemp at The Same Time

The USDA, the same people who denied making the film ‘Hemp For Victory‘, has just approved Indiana’s hemp plan to cultivate and process hemp. The goal is to transition Indiana’s pilot program into the commercial hemp industry.

The old laws require anyone looking to grow hemp to be associated with the University, and they needed a research proposal. New regulations would allow farmers to get an independent license. With hemp being made legal in the 2018 Farm Bill, there are now 29 states operating with approved hemp plans. There are 12 more said to be currently in the works.

Thanks to decades-old cannabis prohibition, hemp has been confused with its notorious cousin marijuana for quite some time. While they are both cannabis, they are both very different. The easiest way to avoid confusion, countless spending of tax dollars, and citizens’ arrests would be to just end prohibition altogether.

We’re working towards that as a nation, and states who still support draconian marijuana prohibition laws will soon find themselves having to rewrite laws they waited till the last minute to take care of. Voters of these states need to remember this when it comes time to head to the polls in their next local election.

Indiana Allows Hemp Cultivation But You Can’t Smoke it For Medicinal Benefits

The state of Indiana has a zero-tolerance policy for medical or recreational cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, is a different story as long as it is a product that contains 0.3% THC or less. In this case, there is no penalty, incarceration, or fine. Should you be found with cannabis rich in THC, though, it’s another story. Any amount of cannabis, no matter how little or much will land you jail time in the state of Indiana. Current laws in the state start out with 180 days in jail and a max fine of $1,000 plus a misdemeanor charge on your record.

This means if they found a roach in your ashtray or even a couple of scraps and a seed, you could be charged accordingly. If you get caught with less than 30 grams and have a past drug offense, you could be facing a misdemeanor charge, a year in jail, and a max fine of $5,000. If you have more than 30 grams and have had a prior drug offense, you face being charged with a felony, six months to two and a half years in jail, and up to a $10,000 fine.

CBD is legal to be sold when it is derived from hemp and contains 3% THC or less just about everywhere in the United States. Indiana has an exception like New York is in the process of working on that prohibits smokable hemp flowers from being sold. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, attorneys argued that the state of Indiana did not have the right to ban the possession of smokable hemp products because federal law guarantees interstate commerce of hemp. In September of 2019, an Indiana judge took the side of support for the Midwest Hemp Council and ruled Indiana’s smokable hemp ban as unconstitutional. Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana all ban smokable hemp.

Changes Under Act 516 Still Don’t Provide Clarity Amid Confusion

In 2019, the state of Indiana passed Senate Enrolled Act 516. Under Act 516, Indiana refreshed their definition of hemp, making it current with the 2018 Farm Bill. However, Act 516 criminalizes the possession of any smokable hemp which goes against the 2018 Farm Bill and creates an area of great misunderstanding.

US District Judge Sarah Evan Barker understood law enforcement’s confusion between medical/retail cannabis and hemp but still does not believe that gives them the right to pass laws making it a controlled substance. She was quoted saying,

“The fact that local law enforcement may need to adjust tactics and training in response to changes in federal law is not a sufficient basis for enacting unconstitutional legislation.”

An example of how this could lead to confusion is outlined by Barker where she wrote, “a driver traveling along I-74 from Ohio to Illinois who passes through Indiana with smokable hemp in the vehicle, including hemp bud or hemp flower, would be in possession of smokable hemp and then subject to arrest and criminal penalties.”

The language attached to Act 516 is confusing at best. The seventh circuit in Indiana tried to clarify that. They said the possession and ban of smokable hemp bud or flower do not apply to those with hemp that pass through Indiana. However, you are likely just as confused as the rest of us.

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