Indiana Legislators Step Into Hemp Flower Debate

Indiana State Rep. Sean Eberhart's bill to legalize hemp flower sales is picking up traction.

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February 18, 2021

Indiana State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) filed House Bill 1224 to legalize hemp flower in the state, a move that tracks with a growing trend of debating (and either formally allowing or banning) the product category on retail shelves.

In fact, H.B. 1224 is one of three bills in Indiana this year meant to legalize hemp flower. Based on early committee action, it’s the only one to build any meaningful momentum. The bill is now up for a floor vote in the Indiana House.

But it’s certainly not a done deal.

Law enforcement is pushing back on the proposal, insisting that legal hemp flower sales would complicate THC-rich cannabis prosecution. Purdue University (located in Indiana) is developing a field test that could quickly determine the THC content in cannabis found on a person or at a traffic stop, but that technology is not yet ready for the road.

In general, law enforcement has found support among state regulators and the courts, which have sought to keep the hemp flower ban in place. In 2020, a federal appeals court stepped in to uphold the state’s ban on help flower, ruling that states may craft regulations that go beyond anything the U.S. Department of Agriculture arranges. The debate has remained active ever since.

"Really, all we're talking about is another delivery method of CBD to the body," said Justin Swanson, president of the Midwest Hemp Council, told IndyStar.com. "All we're trying to do is open this market up to the farmers, to give them confidence to explore the market."

And yet. State regulators from Texas to New York have wrestled with the concept. In New York, state legislators have introduced a bill that would work around the Department of Health and provide a legal path to hemp flower sales.