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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.

Join MHC at CBD Expo Midwest!

Join us for two days of networking and learning at CBD Expo Midwest, happening April 9 and 10 at the Indianapolis Marriott East. The event offers something for everyone - choose from thought provoking panels and exciting activities. Discover the cutting edge of research and medicine. Brush up on regulation and compliance. Fine-tune your marketing skills and improve sales under the guidance of industry experts. We'll be there, so come and see us:

  • Visit MHC in the Expo Hall - we'll be at booth 11 and MHC members Adams Independent Testing will be in booth 32.
  • Join MHC President Justin Swanson and members Joe Linne, Hoosier Hempster Dispensary, and Greg Kruger, DREEM Nutrition, for a panel on challenges and opportunities in retail and wholesale at 3:15 p.m. on Friday.
  • Join MHC member Austin Rhodus, DREEM Nutrition, for a panel discussion on terpenes at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • MHC member Dr. Dan Silva of Midwest Hemp Testing Services will take part in a panel discussion on creating novel CBD formulations on Friday. He will also take part in a panel discussion on cutting edge cannabinoid science and host a Center Stage presentation on identifying effective cannabinoids on Saturday.
  • MHC member Dr. Richard Sams of KCA Laboratories will participate in a panel discussion on minor cannabinoids at 10:15 on Saturday and a panel on the cutting edge of cannabinoid science immediately following.
  • Joe Linne will also participate in a panel discussion on CBD regulations in the Midwest at 1:30 on Saturday.
Haven't registered yet? It's not too late to buy tickets! Use code XHBTR5 for 50% off!

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

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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USDA Issues Final Hemp Rule

USDA has issued its final hemp rule! While we are still reviewing the 301 page document, there are changes that reflect the industry’s comments, including:
  • extending the harvesting window to 30 days
  • improving sampling requirements
  • allowing remediation
  • raising the negligence threshold from .5% THC to 1% THC.
Thank you to all who submitted comments - great work! This final rule supersedes the interim final rule and is effective within the next 60 days or so. We will provide an in-depth analysis in the coming days.

Midwest Hemp Council’s Hemp at the Crossroads Postponed Until December 2021

Midwest Hemp Council’s 2021 Hemp at the Crossroads conference, originally scheduled for February 4-5, 2021, has been postponed until December 1-3, 2021.

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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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Hemp group in U.S. state of Kentucky says it will go independent

Stakeholders in the U.S. state of Kentucky say they will launch a re-branded, independent hemp organization after a falling out with the national Hemp Industries Association (HIA).

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Update on Smokable Hemp in Indiana

On August 6, 2020, the Seventh Circuit denied the Petition for Rehearing regarding the pending smokable hemp litigation in Indiana. The practical impact of this denial means that Indiana will be free to prosecute farmers, small businesses and other entrepreneurs that grow and/or sell smokable hemp beginning on August 13, 2020.

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€7 million investment for factory to boost output of hemp blocks

Belgian hemp block maker IsoHemp said it has raised nearly €7 million to build a new high-tech factory, as the company sees demand rising for its pre-formed building materials.

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U.S. tech developer says time is right for its mid-size decorticator

As interest in hemp fiber applications grows, U.S. farm technology innovator Formation Ag says it is getting a growing number of inquiries about its mid-size hemp decortication units.

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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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MHC Member Healthy Hoosier Oil Adding Hemp to the Lineup

 Midwest Hemp Council Member, Mark Boyer, tells us “I will be adding hemp seed oil to our lineup of cold pressed, farm grown oils in hopes of establishing a value based market for this form of hemp. This crop with its many different forms and markets, has the long term potential of being a solid performer as a rotational crop in production agriculture."

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Seventh Circuit Issues Ruling on Smokable Hemp

The long awaited ruling from the Seventh Circuit on criminalizing smokable hemp arrived late yesterday evening. The decision is a mixed bag for the industry in that the decision affirmed part of the district court’s rationale for the injunction but found that the injunction was too broad. We believe the 7th Circuit’s decision affirms the unconstitutionality of portions of SEA 516 and look forward to addressing those arguments on remand. As of now, the injunction being lifted will officially be in effect on July 29, 2020. You should plan to have all smokable hemp products off the shelf by this date.

Read the ruling here.

MHC to Host Breakout Session at 2020 ACI Conference

At Agribusiness Council of Indiana's 2020 conference & expo, Midwest Hemp Council President Justin Swanson, State Seed Administrator Don Robison and HempRise LLC's Charlie Bowman will discuss the rapidly evolving hemp industry in Indiana during an hour long breakout session on Wednesday, August 12. Swanson will focus on state and federal enabling legislation, Robison will focus on the relevant rules and production statistics, and Bowman will provide an overview of HempRise LLC's $52M processing facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

For information about the session, click here.