Indiana Hemp Overview

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What is Hemp?

Hemp can be defined in two ways: first, it is a herbaceous plant of the Cannabis sativa species. Secondly, hemp is also the legal term for Cannabis which has a tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] content of 0.3% or less. Hemp is the source of cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound used in various therapeutic medicines.

Hemp is often confused with marijuana because they belong to the same Cannabiceae family. Marijuana, however, is a more psychoactive plant than hemp because it has a THC content of between 15-20%. A psychoactive compound causes alterations in the mood of a consumer, leading to euphoria and intoxication. Marijuana is still prohibited federally in the U.S., while hemp has been steadily legalized over the past two decades. In terms of its botanical characteristics, the hemp plant has leaves of greater width than those of marijuana. Marijuana is a shorter plant than hemp, with certain varieties growing up to 12 feet. While the hemp plant adapts to most soils and climates, marijuana ideally grows in warmer conditions.

The term industrial hemp refers to hemp, which is cultivated purely for use in producing consumer goods or medicinal therapies. In the U.S., industrial hemp is legal for cultivation and is the source of many CBD products in states with hemp programs.

The hemp plant comprises several parts, and is a source of several important derivatives, including:

  • Hemp seed: Hemp seeds are essential for propagating the hemp crop. They are also eaten for their nutritional benefits and are a rich source of oil. Hemp seeds are edible even without being processed

  • Hemp flower: The female hemp plant produces flowers and seeds, while the male hemp plant produces flowers and pollen. Female hemp seeds are thus in greater demand for cultivation. Hemp flower is low in THC and is smoked for its therapeutic benefits.

  • Hemp extract: Hemp extract describes a medicinal blend made up of all the parts of the hemp plant, including its leaves, flowers, stalks, and roots. These parts contain compounds like cannabinoids, flavonoids, limonene, terpenes, salts, and isomers. Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD are all types of hemp extract

  • Hemp oil: Hemp oil is extracted from the hemp seed. It does not contain CBD. Hemp oil is used as a cooking oil and is also a raw material for biofuel

  • Hemp hearts: When hemp seeds are split open, they reveal a soft, chewy tissue known as the heart They do not contain any of the cannabinoids, CBD or THC. They are, however, rich in nutritional contents like Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and magnesium.

  • Hemp milk:** **This is produced by blending hemp seeds with water. It is high in calories, and in nutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is used as a substitute for animal milk and can be added to coffee, smoothies, tea, and cereals

Is Hemp Legal in Indiana?

Yes, hemp is legal in Indiana. Oversight for hemp licensing, cultivation, and regulation is the responsibility of the Office of Indiana State Chemist [OISC]. The year 2014 marked a turning point in the legality of hemp in the U.S. Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill, which reclassified industrial hemp as an agricultural crop. Along with heroin and LSD, hemp had been classed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp was defined as Cannabis with a THC content of not more than 0.3%. States were allowed to cultivate hemp solely for the purpose of research. Such industrial hemp research could be carried out either by universities or by agricultural departments in states. Hemp programs could only be undertaken in states where the laws permitted. Commercial cultivation was strictly outlawed.

In 2018, the Agricultural Improvement Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, was passed. It broadened the definition of hemp from just Cannabis with a dry weight THC content of 0.3% or less to include the hemp plant's isomers, seeds, acids, cannabinoids, extracts, and derivatives. The 2018 Farm Bill modified the definition of hemp, which had previously placed it in the same prohibited category as marijuana. It equally set up the Domestic Hemp Production Program and appointed the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] to oversee the program.

Shortly after the 2014 federal Farm Bill was enacted, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Industrial Hemp Bill, or IC-15-15-13. This bill assigned the Office of Indiana State Chemist to oversee hemp regulation on the state The state's Seed Commissioner was equally responsible for the regulation and licensing process. The Indiana State industrial hemp research program was run jointly with Purdue University.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed HB 1148 into law in 2017. This bill gave qualifying patients in Indiana access to CBD oil so long as its THC content remained within the specified limit of 0.3%. HB 1148 permits Indiana doctors to recommend CBD oil for patients with chronic seizures and patients whose epileptic conditions fail to respond to alternative therapies.

The Indiana Senate passed SB 52 in 2018 to legalize the use of low THC hemp extract in the state. It defined hemp extract as being derived purely from Industrial hemp, and the Cannabis sativa cultivar, having a maximum of 0.3% THC. SB 52 expanded access to CBD products to the generality of Indiana residents, not solely those who were enrolled in the cannabidiol registry.

In 2019, the passage of Senate Bill 516 authorized the establishment of the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee, whose mandate was to provide the Indiana Seed Commissioner with counsel regarding the state's hemp program. The bill made it mandatory for any hemp vendor in Indiana to have a Seed Distribution Permit. According to the bill, hemp flowers and buds may only be sold to valid hemp processing license holders.

Indiana strictly monitors the cultivation of hemp. Any hemp grown without a license and outside of approved areas is considered to be marijuana. Hemp and hemp products are not prohibited from crossing Indiana state lines. Hemp farmers in Indiana can bring in hemp seeds from other states.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Indiana?

Hemp-derived products with a THC content of 0.3% or less are legal in Indiana. These include CBD oil, gummies, vapes, and tinctures. Hemp-derived delta-8 THC products are also legal in Indiana. The state has strict labeling requirements for hemp products and penalizes retailers who knowingly sell products with a THC level above the legal limit.

SB 516 prohibits the smoking of hemp flowers in Indiana. Public smoking of hemp is not permitted in the state. This prohibition also applies to drivers and truckers who smoke while driving. Per SB 516, it is a Class A misdemeanor for an Indiana resident to handle or process hemp seed without a license.

Can a Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Indiana?

Indiana Senate Bill 516 strictly prevents any Indiana county, city, or municipality from passing ordinances that would in any manner restrict the cultivation or processing of hemp within their borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Indiana

In order to legally cultivate hemp in Indiana, individuals or business entities must obtain a grower's license. This license is issued by the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC). In 2020, the approval by the USDA of the Indiana State Hemp Plan meant that industrial hemp farmers no longer need to collaborate with university hemp research programs.

Indiana hemp license applications, whether for growing or processing hemp are done online. Applicants must provide the OISC with specific information about the property on which the crop is to be grown or processed. This will include such details as the GPS coordinates of the location. License applicants are required to sign a statement attesting that they have not been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors relating to drugs. Any false claims made in this section of the application leave the applicant open to charges of perjury.

The license application process also includes the granting of written consent by the applicant, allowing the Indiana State Police Department to carry out inspections on the hemp cultivation location. These inspections will verify that the hemp crop is being cultivated according to laid down rules and regulations. Such inspections are statutorily carried out twice yearly.

Applicants are required to provide the OISC with details including their:

  • Valid mailing address

  • Valid phone number

  • Valid email address

  • Tax ID issued by the Internal Revenue Service [IRS]

  • Company name

  • Actual physical address of company

Hemp grower and processor license applicants are legally obliged to undergo a criminal background check. This check is conducted to ensure that participants in the hemp industry have not been convicted of drug-related felonies or misdemeanors in the 10-year period prior to their applications. The USDA requires this background check to be completed within 60 days of an application.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Indiana?

The State of Indiana charges $750 for hemp grower license and hemp processor license. The fees are payable either by credit card or debit card. License fees are non-refundable.

How to Grow Hemp in Indiana

Hemp is propagated by seed. Farmers who grow hemp for industrial purposes typically like to keep THC levels low. This is optimally achieved by planting feminized seeds. Feminized seeds stand no chance of being pollinated; pollination invariably reduces the CBD level in a hemp plant. During the early months of cultivation, the hemp crop needs to be watered. It however does not thrive in soils that are too wet.

The State of Indiana has set standards for hemp seed cultivation. Indiana hemp farmers are advised to cultivate only certified hemp seeds. This is seed tested and verified to be the purest of its variety and is usually free from weeds. A Trueness to Variety test is usually carried out in hemp seeds. One way by which hemp seed is protected from contamination is by setting one crop field a considerable distance from another to reduce the risk of cross-pollination. Indiana hemp farmers are advised to maintain a setback distance of at least three miles between hemp fields. The Indiana Crop Improvement Association is responsible for certifying hemp seed in the state and carrying out regular inspections on hemp farms.

Because hemp is particularly prone to pests and weeds, pesticides often have to be used on the crop. Only pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency are to be applied on hemp planted in the U.S. All pesticides to be used on hemp plants in Indiana have to be approved by the Office of Indiana State Chemist. State laws prohibit the use of homemade or improvised pesticide.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of pesticides approved for hemp farming in Indiana:

  • Arber Bio Fungicide

  • Bioprotec Plus

  • Carb-O- Nator

  • Crymax Bioinsecticide

  • Fawligen

  • Guarda

  • Heligen Biological Insecticide

  • Megagro L

  • Mycotrol WPO

  • Oxidate 2.0

  • Terraclean 5.0

  • Zerotol 2.0

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Indiana?

Smokable hemp flowers are not legal for sale or purchase in Indiana. Its consumption was outlawed by SB 516. Smokable hemp flowers cannot be purchased in Indiana stores or ordered online within the state.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp describes the plant, while THC describes the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol, which is present in moderate amounts in the hemp plant and its extracts. In Indiana, hemp-derived delta-8 THC products are legal.

Hemp vs CBD

Hemp refers to the herbaceous, flowering plant. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in significant levels in the hemp plant.. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal in Indiana. Federal laws allow CBD oil and other products to be sold only if they have been processed from hemp.

Hemp Applications

Hemp is known to have various uses and applications. Industrial hemp is used in the construction industry to make building materials like hempcrete:

  • **Hempcrete **is a building material composed of hemp, lime, and water. It is durable and light, and is particularly used to construct parts of a building which are not load-bearing, like attics and roo

  • **Hemp oil, **which is extracted from the hemp seed, is used to make skincare products and food additives like salad cream. It is also used to make biofuel.

  • Hemp fiber is used to make carpets, insulation, wood pulp, and paper. It is also used in the textile industry to make clothing and ropes

  • Hemp seed is used in making beer. Various parts of the hemp plant, like the seeds, heart, fiber, and seed oil, are infused into beer during brewing. Hemp seed is also used in making animal feed and flours.

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