Court reinstates ban on smokable hemp in U.S. state of Indiana

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A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled the state of Indiana may ban the production, possession and delivery of smokable hemp, affirming states have the right to regulate hemp production and reversing a decision earlier this year by a lower court that struck down the ban.

At the center of the case is a challenge to a 2019 law brought by the Midwest Hemp Council, an industry group, and several Indiana vendors of hemp products who filed a lawsuit late last year. In that original case, a U.S. District Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ claims that the state’s ban violates federal law under the U.S. Farm Bill of 2018 that legalized hemp at the national level, and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the ban. That allowed the companies to continue to sell their products.

State’s right

But in a ruling from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week, a panel of three judges voided the lower court’s decision, reinstating the ban after state officials appealed. “The Farm Law authorizes the states to continue to regulate the production of hemp, and . . . places no limitations on a state’s right to prohibit the cultivation or production of industrial hemp,” the court said in a ruling yesterday.

“The Indiana General Assembly chose to prohibit the production, possession, and delivery of smokable hemp in Indiana in order to protect the efforts of law enforcement in enforcing state drug laws and to avoid setbacks like those experienced in other states,” the state argued in its appeal. “This prohibition is a valid exercise of Indiana’s traditional police powers.”

Attorneys for the hemp resellers challenging the law, told the court, “The new (Indiana) legislation is at best incomplete and at worst extremely vague as to what it purports to allow.”

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