From MHC President Justin Swanson: The End of Cannabis Prohibition in Indiana?

The Indiana General Assembly concluded its business for the 2022 legislative session on March 8, 2022. Legislators on both sides of the aisle introduced a record number of fourteen (14) cannabis-related bills. These proposals ranged from providing regulated medical and/or adult use marijuana markets to Hoosiers, to legalizing hemp grain as a commercial animal feed, to re-legalizing the production and manufacturing of craft hemp flower and narrowing the definition of low THC hemp extract. Despite the objectively increasing interest in cannabis reform policies from Indiana lawmakers, there were no cannabis-related bills that made it all the way through the legislative process and into state law. However, evidence continues to point to a growing momentum for common sense cannabis reform in Indiana for a few reasons:

First, the 2022 legislative session was the second session in a row that the General Assembly rejected an attempt to narrow the definition of “low THC hemp extract” in Indiana without proper input and participation from the industry and other stakeholders. While many operating in the industry are rightfully frustrated with the uncertainty these types of bills create, they also present an opportunity to educate lawmakers on the growing market here in Indiana. Fortunately, the industry was able to push a unified message to the General Assembly that resulted in the offensive language being firmly rejected. So, it is status quo for the low THC hemp extract market in Indiana—low THC products that have been properly tested by an independent lab and meet other labeling requirements are still legal to be sold and consumed in Indiana. We look forward to addressing lawmakers’ concerns with these products through commonsense regulations that strikes the right balance between continued broad consumer access and consumer safety.

Second, the 2022 legislative session was also the second session in a row the House of Representatives voted to re-legalize the craft hemp flower market for our farmers and consumers in Indiana. Currently, it is a crime in Indiana to sell, manufacture and/or possess craft hemp flower in Indiana. Despite this legal status, questionable craft hemp flower products grown and manufactured in other states continue to flood Indiana’s market without enforcement. While law abiding Hoosier farmers and other small business owners are forced to sit on the sidelines, those willing to break the law continue to gain market share with no consequences. While we are disappointed the bill not make it through the Senate, we will continue to educate lawmakers on the benefits of providing a clear path to market for these products, which ultimately benefits our farmers and consumers in Indiana.

Finally, legislative leaders recently announced the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services will be dedicating a summer study topic on “Delta 8, Delta 9, and other THC products regarding potential health benefits, potential decriminalization, and other potential consequences.” This marks the first time the Indiana General Assembly is taking a holistic view of the cannabis industry and how best to balance consumer safety with consumer access to cannabis products. While Indiana certainly is not the first state to propose a regulated cannabis market for its citizens, there is an open opportunity to be the first state to create a regulatory structure that allows licensed cannabis market participants to outcompete their number one competitor--the illicit black market.

We are anxiously awaiting for legislators to be assigned to summer committees and for the committee chair to announce a meeting schedule. In the meantime, we will continue to work with the industry to approach the General Assembly with a unified message on the benefits of a regulated cannabis market that safely meets consumer demand. 

If you are not already a member, be sure to join Midwest Hemp Council and have confidence you have access to timely and accurate information on all things cannabis in Indiana.


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