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From MHC President Justin Swanson: Update on Craft Hemp Flower Litigation in Indiana

Executive Summary: In June 2019, the Midwest Hemp Council joined small business owners in Indiana to challenge the criminalization of craft hemp flower in federal court. The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the hemp industry and prohibited the enforcement of the statute criminalizing the production, sale and possession of craft hemp flower. This favorable ruling was appealed to the Seventh Circuit. Unfortunately, the Seventh Circuit inexplicably ignored the industry’s strongest argument and the one on which the U.S. District Court relied on to issue its injunction against the state—individual states do not have the authority to pick and choose what is legal coming off of the hemp plant, so long as the product is below .3% THC. This unfavorable order came out in July 2020 and resulted in the state being permitted to enforce the criminalization of craft hemp flower in Indiana. On Monday, May 24, 2021, after a nearly two-year battle in the federal court systems, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case without prejudice. This means that if the regulatory or enforcement environment changes in Indiana, the door is still open if there is an interest in refiling the case.

Current Legal Status of Craft Hemp Flower in Indiana: Craft hemp flower is free to travel “in continuous transit” through Indiana so long as a Hoosier farmer didn’t produce it, a Hoosier small business owner didn’t sell it and a Hoosier consumer didn’t possess it. Yes, you read that correctly. It is the current policy of Indiana that out-of-state farmers and business owners are free to profit from one of the most lucrative markets in the hemp industry, while Hoosiers are shut out of the market. We will continue to engage and educate lawmakers, regulators and other stakeholders on why the craft hemp flower market is so crucial to farmers and the development of the whole hemp plant economy. The Indiana General Assembly is becoming more educated on this issue as reflected in HB 1224 this year, which passed out of the House with bipartisan support 69-28 and would have responsibly reopened the market to Hoosiers. Unfortunately, the bill stalled in Senate committee and did not receive a vote. We are looking forward to building off of this momentum during the 2022 legislative session.

Crucial Flexibility Coming to Indiana Hemp Farmers

It’s no secret the hemp industry continues to work through various choke points whether it’s the weather, bad genetics or limited access to proper banking channels. Despite these challenges, Hoosier farmers and small business owners continue to be optimistic about the future of the industry. The playbook for improving economic opportunity in the whole hemp plant economy is multi-faceted. To match the scale of what is needed and to make regional markets work better for more people, we must continue to educate our regulators, our lawmakers and other stakeholders with unified messages. And that’s exactly what has been happening in Indiana.

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Update on SB 197

As you will recall from our last update, SB 197 contains problematic language for hemp farmers, processors, small business owners and consumers in Indiana. The hemp industry, like any industry, needs certainty and consistency in order to have the confidence to continue to invest in their business operations in Indiana. In response to this problematic language, Representatives Eberhart, Teshka and Judy filed four amendments designed to help and/or protect the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana.

Fortunately, SB 197 was not called down off the Second Reading Calendar so it is now dead for session. We will remain vigilant through the end of session to ensure, at the very least, the whole hemp plant economy is protected from seed to shelf. 

Be sure to reach out to Representatives EberhartTeshka and Judy to thank them for their efforts to protect our growing industry from government overreach.

Update on HB 1224 and SB 197

While its disappointing that HB 1224 was not brought back for a committee vote this week, our members did a terrific job of communicating with the members of the committee to educate them on why this bill is so important to farmers, small business owners and consumers. It’s not time to give up just yet, as there is more work to be done this legislative session.
Our attention now turns to SB 197 on the Second Reading calendar in the House, where Representative Teshka has filed two crucial amendments for the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana. Currently, SB 197 contains language that narrows the definition of a “low THC hemp extract” to require all products to contain less than .3% total THC in order to be sold in Indiana. This language is much narrower than the current definition that measures only total delta-9 THC and was added into the bill without any input from the industry. Amendment #13 removes this language from the bill in order to maintain the status quo in Indiana. Any changes to Indiana’s hemp laws ought to be done in a transparent manner with industry input.
As the saying goes, a bill isn’t dead until it's dead. Representative Teshka’s Amendment #10 revives HB 1224 (re-legalizes the craft hemp flower market), since it did not pass out of Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology. If the amendment is adopted by the House, HB 1224 still has a chance at becoming law this session, but not without your active support of the bill.
We urge you to reach out to your Representative today and over the weekend to ask that they support Representative Teshka’s Amendment #10 and Amendment #13 to SB 197. The more Indiana lawmakers learn about the positive economic impact the whole hemp plant economy has on farmers, small business owners and consumers, the more willing they are to protect it from government overreach.
Need help finding your legislators or their contact information? Visit the IGA website and enter your address.

HB 1224 Held, May be Heard Again

HB 1224 was heard in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology yesterday. The Committee did not take a vote yesterday, and we need your help to get it on the committee agenda for Thursday. MHC President Justin Swanson offered the following statement on yesterday’s hearing and the importance of HB1224 for the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana:

"We remain hopeful that the Indiana General Assembly will find an appropriate legislative solution to re-open the projected $300M-$400 craft hemp flower market for farmers, small business owners and consumers across Indiana. But we need Midwest Hemp Council members to consistently contact Senator Chip Perfect, the committee chair, and the committee members to ask that they bring HB 1224 back for a vote on ThursdayThis bill will not pass unless you help educate these Senators about why their support for the bill is so important to you as a farmer, business owner or consumer."

If you missed 
yesterday’s hearing, archived video is available on the IGA website. Contact information for committee members can be found below. Keep an eye on your inbox for additional updates from your only source of timely and accurate information about the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana.
LA Phone
District Email
Chip Perfect, Chair
Eric Koch, RM
Scott Baldwin
Stacey Donato
Blake Doriot
Erin Houchin
Jean Leising
Andy Zay
Jean Breaux, RMM
Lonnie Randolph
Shelli Yoder

SB 197 Amended to Negatively Impact Indiana Hemp Industry

It's been a busy legislative session for hemp in Indiana, and next week is no exception. In addition to HB 1224 being heard in committee on Monday, we wanted to alert you to an amendment that was added to a 127-page bill that negatively impacts the hemp industry in Indiana. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code added an amendment to SB 197 that would represent a significant policy shift away from the black letter law of the 2018 Farm Bill in Indiana. The amendment was taken by consent, with only the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testifying in support of the amendment and with no opportunity for input from the hemp industry.
The hemp industry, just like any other industry in Indiana, needs certainty and uniformity in order to be successful. While reasonable minds can disagree on the intent of the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress continues to focus on ensuring that USDA has sole regulatory jurisdiction over all derivatives, extracts and cannabinoids coming from the hemp plant and ending any claim of DEA jurisdiction over hemp and hemp processing. This intent was expressed yet again in a letter submitted this week to the Attorney General of the United States and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture asking for the agencies to meet jointly with industry stakeholders to resolve nearly universal concerns with the DEA’s Interim Final Rule.
The Midwest Hemp Council has been hard at work educating lawmakers on the negative impact the amendment would have on farmers and the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana. While we are cautiously optimistic about our progress to date, we may need to activate you and the rest of our strong grassroots foundation to engage lawmakers on the issue. Be on the lookout for an update next week from your only source of timely and accurate information about the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana.

Member Alert: HB 1224 to be Heard by Senate Committee on April 5

Indiana members! This is it! HB 1224 will be scheduled for a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, April 5, in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology. We need all of you to consistently contact the committee members and ask that they vote “Yes” on HB 1224. Their contact information can be found below. This bill will not pass unless you help educate Senators on why this bill is so important to you as a farmer, business or consumer. Currently, craft hemp flower is free to move in “continuous transit” in Indiana - so long as an Indiana farmer didn’t grow it, an Indiana business didn’t sell it and an Indiana consumer didn’t possess it.

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Midwest Hemp Council Statement on the Importance of HB 1224:

"We are extremely disappointed with the recent ruling on Indiana’s current craft hemp flower laws from the Court. Despite the setback, we remain optimistic that the Indiana General Assembly will find an appropriate legislative solution to re-open the projected $300M-$400 craft hemp flower market for farmers, small business owners and consumers across Indiana.
"Modernizing Indiana’s hemp laws is critical to the development and growth of the whole hemp plant economy. Such an act will directly lead to significant investments in and job creation across rural and urban Indiana—without state or federal monetary assistance. Under current Indiana law, craft hemp flower is permitted to travel “in continuous transit” through the state — so long as an Indiana farmer didn’t grow it, an Indiana small business didn’t sell it and an Indiana consumer didn’t possess it.

"HB 1224 modernizes Indiana’s hemp laws by leveraging what has elevated Indiana to a national leader on hemp policy—the appropriate labeling and testing requirements for low THC hemp extract products. Couple this demonstrably successful solution replicated across the country with the availability of several types of road side test kits for law enforcement, HB 1224 is a major win for the whole hemp plant economy.
"HB 1224 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology. This is a great sign as this committee has been supportive of hemp production in Indiana in the past."
What’s next? 
  • Indiana members: Be on the lookout for communications from us on the best time to engage the committee in asking for their support of HB 1224. 
  • Members: Be on the lookout for a halftime report on all cannabis legislation at the Indiana Statehouse.


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HB 1224 Moves to Third Reading

Last week, we told you that the House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development passed HB 1224 with a final vote of 9-4. While this was the first step in ensuring Indiana’s farmers and small business owners have access to the whole hemp plant economy, our work continues. We developed the flow chart below to help our members follow HB 1224 through the twists and turns of the legislative process.

What does HB 1224 accomplish? It responsibly re-legalizes the projected $300M-$400M craft hemp flower market in Indiana for farmers, small business owners and other entrepreneurs. The current criminalization of federally legal craft hemp flower has done nothing to curb demand for the product. Instead, it has only shifted demand away from Indiana farmers and small businesses to out of state farmers and online retailers. Consumers simply have the product shipped directly to them through the United States Postal Office.
What happens next? HB 1224 has been added to the Third Reading Calendar, where all 100 representatives will vote “yes” or “no” on the bill. If the bill receives a simple majority of “yes” votes, the bill will then move to the Senate Chamber to restart the process.
How can you help if you live in Indiana? YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Indiana Representatives must hear from all farmers, handlers, small businesses owners, consumers and other entrepreneurs in Indiana on this issue. They cannot hear from you enough, so don’t be shy. It is imperative that you make the direct ask that your representative votes yes on HB 1224. We also ask that you reach out to Governor Holcomb and ask that he supports the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana. Need help finding your representative? Click here to find your legislators. 
Keep your eyes peeled for more updates from MHC on HB 1224 as it moves through the process. We are the only trusted source for timely and accurate information on the whole hemp plant economy in Indiana.

Member Alert: The Hoosier Craft Hemp Flower Market Needs Your Help!

The House Committee on Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development took testimony on HB 1224 on January 25, 2021. The bill will be scheduled for a final committee vote early next week and we need your help.

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From OISC: Untrustworthy hemp seed suppliers pose risk to farmers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) is warning the public about predatory hemp seed vendors known to be currently active in the state.

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Heartland Hemp Coop Launches Member-Owned Cooperative

Heartland Hemp Coop today announces the launch of its member-owned cooperative, focused on building a seed-to-shelf supply chain for hemp farmers in the Midwest. The coop will focus on the production and processing of hemp for fiber. 

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Midwest Hemp Council Leadership Joins Hemp Feed Coalition

After establishing the Midwest Hemp Council Animal Feed Committee and forming a partnership with the Hemp Feed Coalition, exciting progress is being made in unifying the HFC’s vision with MHC membership.

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Anticipating growth in outdoor hemp farming, U.S. developer releases new seed

U.S. seed developer New West Genetics (NWG) has released ABOUND, a line of dioecious hemp seeds for row crop farming, suggesting that conventional outdoor growing offers a path to scalability, dual-cropping of CBD and grain, and a stable supply chain.

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The U.S. SBA's Office of Advocacy Urges AMS To Extend The Reopened Public Comment Period For Interim Final Rule On Domestic Hemp Production

Last week, The Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) of the U.S. Small Business Administration submitted a comment letter in response to the reopening of the public comment period for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) interim final rule. They urged AMS to extend the public comment period for a minimum of 30 additional days to allow for small businesses and their representatives to fully and meaningfully participate in this important rulemaking.

To read their letter, click here.

New York says USDA rules too strict, halts plans for hemp program

The state of New York will not submit a state hemp plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), saying the federal program‘s requirements are too strict on growers. The announcement effectively puts on hold the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ hemp program.

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Smokable hemp banned after local grower lobbies for legalization

“It’s an interesting situation trying to figure out how to navigate. Having a revenue stream shut down as a small business is very detrimental for investing in our business and home state here. We’re trying to scale our business, and having restrictions like this are detrimental to us trying to build jobs and providing economic impact. It has a heavy impact on businesses like us.”

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Struggling Texas Farmers Thought Hemp Might Save Them. The Crop Hasn’t Yet Delivered.

Before the first seed was tucked into Texas soil, farmers and investors eager for a different kind of green revolution flocked to Dallas in January for the Texas Hemp Convention. It was the state’s largest such gathering yet, the culmination of a year’s worth of buzz following the Texas Legislature’s 2019 legalization of industrial hemp. Part of the cannabis family, the plant, unlike its relative marijuana, contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound. But it is rich in CBD, a chemical component used as an ingredient in FDA-approved medication and in home remedies to treat anxiety, pain, insomnia, and even seizures.

Read more in Texas Monthly.

New breed of hemp growers in Beecher face resurgence of the crop

In early 2019, Rachael and Jesse Smedberg took a leap of faith and bought a corn farm in Beecher. A corn silo remains on the 65-acre property that is now Tulip Tree Gardens and Wellness Farm, but corn is no longer grown there.

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Hemp industry groups join to explore checkoff program, but have long way to go

National hemp groups are organizing a campaign to establish a checkoff program – a sometimes-acrimonious system designed to raise money for industry research and promotion by taxing those who profit from the plant.

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