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The Impact of Cannabis Rescheduling in Indiana 

The landscape of cannabis law in the United States is undergoing significant changes. Recently, cannabis was rescheduled from Schedule I to Schedule III, a move that has substantial implications for both medical and recreational users, as well as those involved in the cannabis industry. While Indiana’s stance on cannabis remains stringent compared to many other states, it’s still important for Indiana residents to stay informed about the current legal landscape and potential future changes that may result from cannabis rescheduling in Indiana.  

The Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP continually stay abreast of all changes related to Indiana’s cannabis laws and what the recent federal rescheduling might mean for the Hoosier State. If you have any concerns or legal matters related to cannabis in Indiana, do not hesitate to give our firm a call at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We are available to help you navigate this complicated legal landscape, and if needed, provide experienced, effective legal representation for those facing criminal charges.  

Indiana Marijuana Laws

What Does Cannabis Rescheduling Mean? 

To grasp the full impact of cannabis rescheduling, it’s important to understand what rescheduling entails. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies drugs into five schedules based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety. Schedule I drugs, such as heroin and LSD, are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Cannabis has long been classified as a Schedule I substance

The recent rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule III means it has been moved to a less restrictive category, acknowledging its medical benefits and reducing the penalties associated with its use. For citizens and law enforcement, this rescheduling brings a range of implications that could reshape how cannabis is perceived, used, and regulated.  

Medical Impacts 

While the impact of rescheduling cannabis in Indiana may be minimal, this action will significantly impact the nation, as a whole. Most notably, by recognizing the value of medical cannabis, rescheduling may lead to increased availability of cannabis-based treatments for patients with conditions like chronic pain, epilepsy, PTSD, etc. In addition, rescheduling will likely result in fewer restrictions on future cannabis research. This could lead to a deeper understanding of its medical benefits and potential side effects, ultimately improving the quality and variety of cannabis-based medications available to patients. Finally, the rescheduling of cannabis could pave the way for health insurance providers to begin covering cannabis-based treatments, ultimately reducing the financial burden on patients who rely on these treatments for managing chronic conditions.  

Although cannabis’ move to Schedule III does not decriminalize the substance on a federal level, it will reduce the federal penalties for possession and use. That said, state laws will continue play a significant role; and federal rescheduling has the potential to influence future state legislation, possibly leading to further decriminalization or reduced penalties for cannabis-related offenses at the state level. When this occurs, it may allow state law enforcement agencies to shift their focus away from minor cannabis offenses and free up resources to address more serious crimes and ideally improve public safety.  

In addition, states that choose to legalize or decriminalize cannabis following the federal rescheduling may also consider expunging the records of individuals convicted of cannabis-related offenses that are no longer considered serious crimes under the new federal classification. As a leading Indiana expungement law firm, we believe that this sort of action would provide tremendous relief to those with past convictions, improving their employment prospects and social standing. 

Day-to-Day Impacts of Rescheduling Cannabis 

The day-to-day impacts of the federal rescheduling of cannabis will be quite notable. Above all else, it will likely shift the public perception of cannabis leading to greater normalization of cannabis use, especially for medical purposes. This could reduce the stigma associated with cannabis users and promote a more informed and compassionate public discourse. In addition, increased research and medical use may lead to more public education on the benefits and risks of cannabis can improve. This can lead to more responsible and informed use among citizens. 

Another notable impact of cannabis rescheduling is how it will affect employee drug testing, especially for federal employees. As everyday Hoosiers know quite well, many employers conduct drug testing and have strict policies against cannabis use due to its Schedule I status. As a Schedule III drug, cannabis use might be treated more leniently, particularly for those using it for medical purposes. This could lead to changes in workplace drug policies and reduced stigma for medical cannabis users. 

Finally, the rescheduling of cannabis on federal level has potential to create tremendous economic opportunities throughout the United States. Rescheduling may lead to notable growth in the cannabis industry, creating new business opportunities and jobs. Entrepreneurs and investors may also be able to find new avenues for growth in cannabis cultivation, processing, and retail. On top of that, legalizing and regulating cannabis will likely generate significant tax revenue for federal and state governments. These funds can be reinvested in public health, education, and other community services. 

What is the Cannabis Rescheduling Date? 

Many people are wondering, “so when does the cannabis rescheduling go into effect?” That’s a good question, with a complicated answer. Since the DEA announcement, the rescheduling rulemaking process has begun. It’s in its very early stages right now, but there is some clarity on the upcoming timeline. Once the rule has been created, it will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB has 90 days to review the proposed rule and send it back to the DEA for comment. The DEA then has 30-90 days to comment on the rule and grant an administrative law hearing for “aggrieved parties” However, like any new regulation, there is the potential for litigation to delay the rescheduling; and in the absence of statutory requirements for how long that delay can be, there’s no telling on how long it will actually take for cannabis to officially be designated a Schedule III drug. Regardless, experts throughout the industry and government do believe that, in the end, cannabis will be formally rescheduled at some point in the next 24 months.  

How will Rescheduling Impact Indiana’s Cannabis Laws?

Unfortunately, the positive impact of recent federal cannabis rescheduling in Indiana will be quite minimal. The state maintains a firm prohibition on both recreational and medical cannabis; and that position is not likely to change in the near future. Here’s a detailed look at the Indiana cannabis laws: 

Recreational Use: Possession of cannabis for recreational use is illegal in Indiana. The state enforces strict penalties for possession, cultivation, and distribution. 

Medical Use: Unlike many states, Indiana does not have a comprehensive medical cannabis program. The only exception is for the use of CBD oil with low THC content (less than 0.3%) for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy. However, even this use is tightly regulated. 

Hemp and CBD: The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) and its derivatives, including CBD. Indiana allows the sale and use of hemp-derived CBD products, provided they comply with state and federal regulations. 

On top of the restrictions, Indiana continues to impose severe penalties for those who violate the state’s cannabis laws. As of 2024, possession of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; while possession of more than 30 grams or a prior conviction can elevate the charge to a felony, with harsher penalties. 

Those charged with distribution or cultivation of cannabis will face even more harsh penalties. Under Indiana law, the distribution or cultivation of cannabis can result in felony charges, with penalties ranging from six months to several years in prison, depending on the amount involved and the presence of aggravating factors (e.g., proximity to schools). 

Indianapolis Cannabis Laws and Marijuana Expungement 

While federal cannabis rescheduling is unlikely to change Indiana state law, the Marion County Prosecutor’s office no longer files charges for cannabis possession less than one ounce. However,  

the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will continue to enforce the Indiana marijuana laws. In other words, while the prosecutor’s office no longer charges individuals for simple possession, you can still be arrested for possession less than an ounce of marijuana. 

When it comes to Indiana expungement, this is a critical difference. Arrest records are different and separate from records of criminal charges and convictions; and while both types of records can be sealed, the expungement process does not automatically encompass all criminal records. This means that even if you successfully expunge cannabis charges in Marion County, you could still have other existing arrests, charges or convictions on your record. This is vital to understand, as you may only file for expungement once in Indiana. For this reason, it’s crucial that when seeking cannabis expungement in Indianapolis, you consult with an experienced Indiana expungement attorney to ensure that you are preparing and filing a complete petition that encompasses all of your criminal records throughout the state of Indiana.  

Looking for the Best Indiana Drug Crime Lawyers? 

Navigating the subtle nuances of Indiana’s drug laws can be challenging, especially in light of the recent cannabis rescheduling on the federal level. If you’re currently facing criminal charges related to cannabis, or are unsure of how these upcoming regulations will impact your current personal or business situation, feel free to contact the Indiana drug crimes attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Our attorneys are led by two former deputy prosecutors, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, who have experience both prosecuting and defending cannabis-related cases. This means that our team not only understands the intricacies of Indiana’s drug laws, but possesses the resources and experience needed to capably defend Hoosiers facing drug crime allegations. 

Summary
Article Name
The Impact of Cannabis Rescheduling in Indiana
Description
This article discusses the topic of cannabis rescheduling and how it may impact the state of Indiana
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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