Photo via Sarah Ewart
Dozens of Indiana businesses face civil fines and penalties for selling non-psychoactive CBD-based medicine if state legislators are unable to resolve the question of whether or not the popular cannabinoid is legal in the state. Early last year, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a limited medical marijuana bill into law, allowing patients suffering from certain seizure disorders to use CBD oil treatments. But last summer, state police raided almost 60 stores in the state and seized tens of thousands of dollars worth of CBD products from their shelves. In November, Gov. Holcomb ordered that all stores must remove any products containing even trace amounts of THC within 60 days.
The governor directed state excise police to cease raiding stores and confiscating CBD products over this 60-day period and to issue warnings instead of fines. Despite this moratorium, around 50 of the businesses that were raided over the summer received “Notice of Civil Penalty / Settlement Offer” letters from the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) at the end of December. These letters notified businesses that they were being fined hundreds of dollars for possession of marijuana and the unlawful manufacture, distribution or possession of counterfeit substance, reports NBC affiliate WTHR. The letters also stated that CBD products seized through summer raids would all be destroyed.
A week later, ATC chairman David Cook called many of these business owners and personally told them that the letters were sent by mistake. In a statement, the commission said that “it recently came to our attention that letters were erroneously sent from our office last week. This was an administrative error and these letters should be disregarded … We apologize for any confusion and we are working to correct the issue,” WTHR reports. The chairman said that although the fines imposed in these letters have been rescinded, the final legal fate of the stores depends on whether or not state legislators choose to fully legalize CBD products.
“Everything is on hold until such time we have a determination from the legislature about the legality of CBD oil,” Cook told WTHR. The legality of these products in the state is currently a point of contention, but there are several bills currently being debated by state legislators that would finally clarify the issue if passed. Cook said that if legislators legalize CBD, the ATC would probably dismiss the cases against the businesses and return the seized products. But if they don’t, the fines against these businesses could be reinstated, and the seized products would likely be destroyed.