Indiana and Virginia Lawmakers Expand Access to CBD
Even conservative states like Virginia and Indiana are beginning to accept the medicinal properties of cannabis and its non-psychoactive derivatives.
Published on February 6, 2018

Lawmakers in Indiana and Virginia have approved separate bills to legalize or expand use of CBD oils this week, marking an increasing acceptance of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in conservative states.

Early this week, the Indiana Senate voted 35-13 to approve a bill legalizing the sale and possession of CBD oil in the state. The initial version of the bill would have only approved products that contained no trace of THC, but was amended to allow CBD oils containing up to 0.3% THC.

"My hope with this bill is that more Hoosiers will be able to use this product to treat their ailments," State Senator Mike Young, who sponsored the bill, said to the Northwest Indiana Times. "Since we are limiting how much THC can be in the product, there is no risk for people to use this to get high."

Earlier this month, the Indiana House passed two separate bills to legalize the production and use of CBD. The first of these bills would legalize the use of CBD oil, and also repeals a previous law that required all CBD users to be registered with the state. The second bill would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp within the state, which could be grown to create CBD oil, as well as be used for food, fuel, or fibers. All of the CBD-related bills passed in the state refer to CBD as a hemp product, not a cannabis product, as low-THC industrial hemp is federally legal under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Each of these bills is now being passed to the other chamber of the legislature, where lawmakers must decide which version of the bill they will approve and send to Governor Eric Holcomb. If passed and signed into law, the state would finally see an end to years of confusion over the legality of CBD. The state technically legalized CBD oils with less than 0.3% THC content in 2014, but since then, Gov. Holcomb has directed state excise police to raid stores selling CBD products, and demanded that stores cease selling products containing any trace amount of THC. Several stores are facing criminal fines for selling these medicines, but the fines will likely be dismissed if one of these bills becomes law.

The Virginia General Assembly has also approved bills to expand the use of medical cannabis oils in the state this month. On Monday, the state Senate unanimously voted to pass a bill to allow patients to purchase a 90-day supply of CBD or THC oils, rather than the 30-day supply currently allowed by law. The state's House unanimously approved their version of the bill last week, and the two chambers must only reconcile the two versions before passing them on to Governor Ralph Northam to sign into law.

Gov. Northam, a Democrat elected to the traditionally-Republican governorship of Virginia last year, is likely to approve the bill, as he has shown some limited support for cannabis reform. During his campaign, Northam said he intended to support statewide decriminalization of cannabis. The new governor has not yet had a chance to take action on his promise, though. Last month, a state House committee killed a bill that would have reduced the penalty for minor cannabis possession from $500 and up to 30 days in jail to a maximum civil fine of $250.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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