Indiana’s Smokable Hemp Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

The ruling presses pause on the provision against smokable hemp


Ever since the federal Farm Bill of 2018, the country has seen a slew of rapid changes to laws related to hemp and hemp-derived products. Many of these changes have been taking place at the state and local levels.

Indiana is the most recent example of this rush to establish state and local rules for hemp products. More specifically, a federal judge just ruled against Indiana lawmakers’ recent attempt to criminalize smokable forms of hemp.

Federal Judge vs. Indiana Lawmakers

Earlier this year, lawmakers in Indiana passed Senate Bill 516. This bill was focused on regulating all things related to hemp in the state. Specifically, this included the cultivation of hemp, as well as the production, distribution, and sale of products made from hemp plants.

One of the most controversial points of the bill had to do with smokable hemp flower. According to provisions in the bill, all smokable forms of the hemp plant would have been illegal in Indiana.

Those who drafted the bill argued that it is too hard for law enforcement to tell the difference between illegal cannabis flowers—from plants containing more than 0.3 percent THC—and legal hemp flowers—from plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC.

So, rather than make cops adjust how they operate, some lawmakers attempted to simply make hemp flowers illegal.

The only problem for these lawmakers: the Farm Bill of 2018 removed hemp from the list of federal controlled substances. And according to a federal judge, that includes smokable hemp flowers.

In the wake of Indiana’s Senate Bill 516, a number of plaintiffs sued the state. And last week, a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Specifically, Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled that Indiana’s ban on smokable hemp was in violation of federal rules enacted in last year’s farm bill.

Barker said that state lawmakers were overreaching by attempting to criminalize the interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products. Further, she wrote in her decision that “the fact that local law enforcement may need to adjust tactics and training in response to changes in federal law is not a sufficient basis for enacting unconstitutional legislation.”

According to local news source Indy Star, Barker has enacted a temporary injunction. Her ruling presses pause on the provision against smokable hemp, but the rest of Senate Bill 516 remains in effect. From here, it appears that the case will remain under review.

The Status of Hemp

The federal Farm Bill of 2018 is at the foundation of this entire case. That bill made a number of big changes to hemp, many of which have broad implications for other hemp products.

Specifically, the Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of federally banned substances—so long as the plant has less than 0.3 percent THC.

Importantly, the bill also allows for the interstate commerce of hemp plants and products made from hemp plants. So far, the general understanding is that this includes hemp-derived compounds, most notably CBD and terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, karenene, pinene, and other chemical compounds.

Despite the changes instituted by the Farm Bill, there has been a lot of confusion. And not just in Indiana. Earlier this year, for example, authorities at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport detained and in some cases arrested people traveling with CBD oil.

" Nick Lindsey : Nick is a Green Rush Daily writer reporting on all things cannabis. He currently lives in New York City.."