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STATEHOUSE: Senator plants plan for industrial hemp, CBD reform | Local News

GOSHEN — State Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Syracuse, is approaching the January 2018 legislative session with a plan for initiating industrial hemp production and restructuring laws surrounding cannabis-derived oils.

In a Tuesday interview with The Goshen News, Doriot said he, state Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville), Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy) and others are assembling legislation to address the production, sale and use of cannabidiol (CBD).

As state law stands, CBD products are illegal to possess, make or sell in Indiana. The sole exemption applies to people with epilepsy on a new state registry.

“We’re going to clear that up and we’re going to try to open it up to other neurological disorders — Lou Gehrig’s (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS), MS (multiple sclerosis),” Doriot said.

The distinction between his plan and the medical marijuana movement was made explicit.

“This is no way, shape or form a medical marijuana thing,” he asserted.

CBD oils are often used to treat pain and other ailments, with traces of THC, a psychoactive chemical in marijuana, composing about 0.3 percent of most CBD oils, Doriot said.

“I’ll be honest. I had a mom come up and give me a hug and say, ‘Thank you, senator. My son has slept 18 nights in a row without a seizure.’ So don’t tell me it doesn’t work. The child normally had over 12 seizures a night, and now they’re starting to back off the phenobarbitals and those heavy drugs, and hopefully they’ll get their little boy back.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb directed stores on Nov. 28 to pull products containing THC within 60 days.

“I’ve talked with the governor’s office and they assured us that if we’re moving through any bills at the time of the 60 days, they’re just going to sit and wait for the Legislature to act,” he said.

Aside from personal use, Doriot said CBD oil can also be used as a protein binder in eggs.

“Egg Innovations out of Warsaw wants to use hemp oil — CBD oil — in their feed,” he said. “Their organization is the largest free-range egg producer in the United States … and they want to use it in their feed.”

Doriot added he understands law enforcement officials have concerns over what do to do if a K-9 officer hits on the oil, “and that’s something we’ll have to work through.”

Another issue Doriot will be carrying into the Statehouse come January is the push for production of industrial hemp in Indiana. He said Purdue University is presently in charge of studying industrial hemp in Indiana and “we’re looking for a starting 1,000 acres.”

The bill would be separate from the CBD proposal.

“We’ll be working with Purdue to issue licenses to farmers who have suitable ground and that is our first trial with it,” he said.

The senator cited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s legalization of hemp farming Thursday, and the roughly 13,000 acres of Kentucky hemp, as successful results of similar regional efforts.

If the bill passes, local industry already making use of hemp will have lower shipping costs, farmers will see economic incentives and an “unbelievable” amount of products could be made, he said.

“We’re sitting here with an agricultural product that profits I’ve heard numbers between $250 and $1,000 for an acre,” he said. “We have guys growing corn and beans that are struggling to make $50 to $100 an acre.”


When asked what he believes are other issues facing the Legislature in 2018, Doriot said leaders have decided it’s time to “clean up” alcohol laws.

“Which I agree,” he said, referencing the different regulations placed on small, independently owned businesses and big-box stores, as well as the long-debated restriction on Sunday sales.

“I just sent out a mailer, and I want my constituents to look at it, the questions on it, and answer those questions to help me learn more how the district is feeling, and give me a little guidance on how everybody wants that handled,” he said.

Doriot also said he will work on a bill aimed at allowing drive-away transporters of RVs to operate as sub-contractors, rather than the currently mandated status of “employee.”

“A court finding said they have to be employees,” he said. “But these people may drive for Quality (Drive Away) one day and Horizon (Transport) next week, and so it makes it, really, impossible for them to be classified as an employee. It’s much easier as a sub-contractor and they maintain their independence as they want.”

Doriot added about “80 percent want to be treated as sub-contractors.”

On the topic of the national opioid epidemic, Doriot was hesitant to offer specific strategies for combating the widespread problem at a state level.

“That’s big and we will be working on that,” he said, adding he would like “to have the doctors check with the pharmacists and have some type of clearing house that says, ‘Hey, this guy is getting opioids from a doctor in Angola and a doctor in Fort Wayne and now he’s in Goshen and he wants opioids here. Uh, we’ve got a problem, so you don’t get it.’”

Geoff Lesar can be reached at geoff.lesar@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 307.

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