Your Guide to the Cannabis Laws in Indiana
Federal regulations continue to forbid cannabis possession and its transportation across state borders. Nonetheless, 24 states across the country have relaxed their stance and legalized cannabis, including three of Indiana’s four neighboring states: Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Regardless of this growing shift in the legality of marijuana, the Indiana cannabis laws remain notably strict. The state continues to enforce severe penalties for both possession and sale of cannabis and has even gone as far as to prohibit the possession and sale of smokable hemp, a product that is considered federally legal.
Navigating the complexities of cannabis laws can be challenging, especially in a mobile society with varying state laws. In this context, the expertise of an Indiana drug crimes attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP becomes invaluable. Our attorneys are led by two former deputy prosecutors, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, who have experience handling cannabis-related cases on both sides of the courtroom. This means that our defense lawyers not only understand the nuances of Indiana’s drug laws, but possess the resources and experience required to capably defend Hoosiers against prosecution under Indiana’s marijuana laws
If you’ve been charged with a cannabis-related crime in Indiana, you’ll want to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Indiana that is invested in securing the optimal outcome in the case against you. Whether that is a reduction of charges, a non-guilty verdict, or the dismissal of charges altogether, Keffer Hirschauer LLP stands ready to begin building your defense. To speak with an attorney today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
The Status of Indiana’s Cannabis Laws in 2023
Between the legal marijuana products found in neighboring states, the wide variety of hemp-derived products (think: Delta-8, THC-O, HHC, etc.) sold at gas stations and headshops around the state, and the loosening of cannabis laws in certain jurisdictions, like Indianapolis, Hoosiers often find themselves wondering: “is weed actually legal in Indiana?” Well, the answer to that question is generally, “no.” However, there are some important nuances to the Indiana cannabis laws and understanding those nuances is key to remaining within the boundaries of state law.
The Legal Status of Cannabis in Indiana
Under the current Indiana cannabis laws in Indiana Code 35-48-4-11, it is illegal to possess, grow, or cultivate cannabis, hash oil, hashish, or salvia. However, the seriousness of the criminal charges varies depending on the circumstances of the offense and the criminal history of the alleged offender.
As prescribed by Indiana’s drug possession laws, the possession of less than 30 grams cannabis (or less than 5 grams of hash oil, hashish, or salvia) can result in a person being charged with a Class B misdemeanor offense. If convicted of this offense, a person would face criminal penalties as serious as up to 180 days in jail and a fine. From here, the criminal penalties escalate; with those possessing larger amounts and having been convicted of prior offenses potentially facing felony charges.
Under the Indiana cannabis laws, selling cannabis, hash oil, hashish, or salvia in Indiana is also illegal; as drug dealing in Indiana considered a serious criminal offense. Under Indiana Code 35-48-4-10, potential criminal penalties depend on the amount sold and the buyer’s circumstances. Selling less than 30 grams of cannabis (or 5 grams of hashish/hash oil) is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense. However, this becomes a Level 6 felony for subsequent offenses. Selling between 30 grams and 10 pounds of cannabis (or between 5 and 300 grams of hashish/hash oil) is also a Level 6 felony, escalating to a Level 5 felony for amounts exceeding 10 pounds (or 300 grams of hashish/hash oil). In addition, a person may be charged with a Level 5 felony under this section of Indiana law if (a) the person who bought the cannabis is a minor; (b) the person is a retailer; or (c) the drug was packaged in a manner that appears to be low-THC hemp extract and the person knew or reasonably should have known that the product was in fact, cannabis, hash oil, hashish or salvia.
Additionally, under Indiana Code 9-30-5-1, a person may be charged with an OWI in Indiana if they are caught operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis. Currently, there is no breathalyzer-like test available to law enforcement officers to determine a person’s level of cannabis-induced intoxication. However, law enforcement officers can determine intoxication by looking for certain indicators. Common indicators include slurred speech, visible swerving, driving too slowly, failing to obey traffic laws, and/or the failure of a field sobriety test. Ultimately, if an officer reasonably believes that a person is operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance like cannabis, they may proceed to request that the driver submit to a blood test.
Indiana Laws on Delta-8 and CBD
The legal status of Delta-8 THC and other hemp-derived products in Indiana is complex. While hemp and CBD are generally legal under federal law, hemp-derived THC derivatives exist in a gray-area. This creates a certain dilemma for many states, leaving them uncertain whether the substances need to be specifically regulated. In recent years, the state of Indiana has taken up the matter by issuing an opinion on the sale of Delta-8 in Indiana; passing a law regulating CBD; and outlawing the possession or sale of smokable hemp.
Indiana Laws on Hemp-Derived Products like Delta-8 and CBD
According to the official opinion from the Indiana Attorney General, most THC variants, including Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, THC-O, and THC-P, are considered controlled substances under Indiana Code 35-48-2-4(d)(32). This classification applies even though some of these compounds are naturally found in cannabis plants, as they are often synthetically produced, which classifies them as synthetic derivatives. As a result, these compounds, in their natural and synthetic forms, fall under the Schedule I controlled substance category in Indiana.
This interpretation takes into account both state and federal laws, including the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. This act, more commonly known as the 2018 farm bill, legalized hemp with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis but did not directly address Delta-8 THC or similar compounds; thus leading to an ambiguous legal status at the federal level. Furthermore, the act did not limit or prohibit the state from regulating hemp-derived products and does not preempt any state law from doing so. Given this, it is permissible under federal law for Indiana to enforce stricter laws and regulations on hemp and/or hemp derived products like Delta-8 THC, without conflicting with the Farm Bill.
Nonetheless, the enforcement of the Attorney General’s opinion around the state has been mixed. While Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told WishTV that “it is not been going to businesses and telling them they can’t sell the product,” and that no cases of selling Delta-8 have been taken up by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, other jurisdictions have pursued retailers of Delta-8 and other hemp-derived products.
In fact, as reported by the Indiana Lawyer, “law enforcement entities throughout the state that have mass-mailed letters to businesses selling products containing delta-8 THC and other variants.” These letters reportedly warn businesses that they must stop selling the products in question or risk being charged under the Indiana cannabis laws prohibiting the sale of the drug.
The Legal Status of CBD in Indiana
While cannabis and other hemp-derived products containing synthetic THC variants remain illegal in Indiana, certain cannabis products like CBD are legal. Thanks to Senate Bill 52, which was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb in March of 2018, Hoosiers may purchase, possess and sell CBD products, provided they are compliant with the definition of “Low THC hemp extract” contained in Indiana Code 35-48-1-17.5. Under this definition a CBD product is legal in Indiana if it:
- Is derived from or contains any part of the plant Cannabis sativa L. that meets the definition of hemp under Indiana Code 15-15-13-6
- Contains not more than three-tenths percent (0.03%) total delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), including precursors, by weight; and
- Contains no other controlled substances
- Is NOT the harvest reproductive organ, whether immature or mature, of the female hemp plant
- Is NOT smokable hemp
Indiana Laws on Smokable Hemp
One element of the definition provided above to take note of is the mention of “smokeable hemp.” Although smokable hemp exists in a gray-area federally, the Indiana cannabis laws located in Indiana Code 35-48-4-10.1 explicitly outlaw the substance. Under this law, a person who “knowingly or intentionally manufactures; finances the manufacture of; delivers; finances the delivery of; or possesses smokable hemp, commits the offense of dealing in smokable hemp, a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. However, this does not apply to the shipment of smokable hemp from a licensed producer in another state during continuous transit through Indiana to a licensed handler in another state.
Charged with a Drug Crime in Indiana?
If you’ve been charged with a crime under the Indiana cannabis laws or are facing charges related to the possession of a controlled substance in Indiana, contact the Indiana drug crime attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending Hoosiers accused of crimes under the state’s drug laws. We have a keen understanding of how prosecutors around the state approach these types of cases and can help you build a sound defense aimed at protecting you and your constitutional rights.