Indiana Companies Challenge State’s Ban on Smokable Hemp

(CN) – Seven Indiana companies filed a federal lawsuit Friday to challenge to the state’s ban on smokable hemp, which is set to go into effect on Monday.

The CBD Store of Fort Wayne and six other shops joined the Midwest Hemp Council in filing the lawsuit on Friday in Southern Indiana District Court.

They sued the state and Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed Senate-Enrolled Act 516 into law last month.

According to the lawsuit, SEA 516 “Renders it a crime to manufacture, finance, deliver, or possess smokable hemp, even though it is a legal hemp derivative under federal law.”

The plaintiffs added that SEA 516 also criminalizes the transportation of smokable hemp “despite federal law explicitly stating that states have no power to do so.”

Hemp seeds. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

The lawsuit cites the Farm Bill Act of 2014, which allows the cultivation of industrial hemp for academic research or under an agricultural pilot program.

Later that year, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation allowing Indiana citizens to produce industrial hemp, which was removed from the state definition of “marijuana.”

Since then, the state seed commissioner has issued more than 100 licenses to allow the production of industrial hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill, according to the retailers, gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture sole authority to regulate hemp production.

“In short, the 2018 Farm Bill (1) broadly defined hemp as including all extracts and derivatives, (2) legalized all hemp products with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%, and (3) mandated that no state or Indian tribe could prohibit the transport of hemp or hemp products,” the lawsuit states.

They object to SEA 516’s definition of smokable hemp, which also includes “hemp bud” and “hemp flower.”

In their lawsuit, the shops included a USDA memorandum, “discussing the prohibition on states restricting the transportation or shipment of hemp, concluding that any state law purporting to do so has been preempted by Congress.”

Attorney Paul Vink of the Indianapolis law firm of Bose McKinney and Evans LLP filed the lawsuit on the shops’ behalf.

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