United States

Legal or Not Legal? CBD Dilemma Crosses State Lines

What to Know

  • Indiana recently passed legislation to legalize CBD after pressure from those who believed in the benefits of the hemp-based product.
  • Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas said criminalizing CBD just makes criminals out of otherwise good people.
  • Indiana Attorney General's Office still recommends CBD products undergo testing so consumers know what's in them.

When it comes to confusion over whether CBD is, or should be, legal, Texas is not alone.

As the Texas state legislature prepares to consider legalizing the hemp-made health product, NBC 5 Investigates traveled to Indiana, which not long ago wrestled with the same questions and the fears associated with them.

"I was terrified," recalled Edie Caito, when she learned in 2017 that police had raided a store on the south side of Indianapolis where she bought CBD.

Caito said she has taken CBD capsules to ease the pain from fibromyalgia.

Before her home state of Indiana legalized CBD, Edie Caito says she was terrified after learning of raids where CBD oil was seized. She joined the fight to push for legislation that legalized the hemp-based product in the Hoosier State.

"I was afraid for all those people out there who had been using this ... We rely on this to get up and go to work every day," Caito said.

In North Texas, store owners are stocking their shelves with CBD products, despite several cases in which users have been arrested, and their CBD confiscated, by authorities who said the state law makes it illegal.

The same thing was happening in Indiana, before that state legalized CBD.

"It was a big surprise for all the retail stores that CBD was being taken off the shelves," said Rick Montieth, who initially stopped selling CBD at his health food store after hearing some other shops had been raided by police.

In Kentucky, CBD has become a thriving industry, with regulations in place to weed out potentially harmful ingredients, like high levels of pesticide and lead. But with the rapid growth comes a warning about where CBD is processed and what could end up in the oil.

But after a few days, Montieth changed his mind.

"I went on TV locally and said, 'I'm putting it back on the shelf,'" he said, believing it didn't make sense for the state to criminalize something that seemed to help so many of his customers.

Caito also fought back, going on social media to build support for CBD users.

"We did a phone blitz to the governor's office. And people would call and call and call," he said.

Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican, said he was also swamped with calls from people who believed in the benefits of CBD.

Lucas said he learned it was made from industrial hemp, which looks like, and is related to, marijuana, but with only low levels of THC, the intoxicating component that produces a high.

Once he did his homework, and felt the public pressure to legalize CBD, he said he supported the successful passage of a bill that did just that.

"When you start criminalizing things that shouldn't be wrong, the only thing we are doing is making criminals out of otherwise good people," Lucas said.

Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican, talks about passing CBD legislation that made the hemp-based product legal in his state.

Legalizing CBD also triggered new rules to show consumers – and police – what's in the product, including placing a QR Code on each bottle that can by scanned by phone.

That code takes you to the product's website, showing independent lab reports on what's in the bottle, including the percentage of CBD.

It also shows the percentage of THC, which police monitor to make sure it does not exceed the legal level.

"The progress that we have made on this in just a short amount of time, within a year, it's just phenomenal," Lucas said. "Any other state that's considering this on CBD ... what the hell are you waiting for?"

Kentucky hemp farmer Paul Glover says there is a green gold rush going on right now in the United States. His hemp farming operation has grown to nearly 100 acres.

In 2017 the Indiana Attorney General, Curtis Hill, issues a legal opinion saying CBD was illegal in the state.

Despite the new law legalizing CBD, the Indiana Attorney General's Office told NBC 5 Investigates it still believes CBD products promoted as having health benefits should undergo scientific testing to determine products are effective and safe under the guidance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  

In Texas, one lawmaker has already talked about initiating new labeling requirements for CBD, but only if the state makes it legal.

For now, it's too early to tell if the Lone Star State will follow in the steps of the Hoosier State.

If you've been out at all recently, you've likely seen the newest health craze -- CBD oil. But is it legal in Texas? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Contact Us