HUNTINGBURG, IN (WAVE) - Cannabidiol oil is illegal in Indiana, according to an opinion released by the Indiana Attorney General.
Attorney General Curtis Hill released an advisory opinion at the end of November saying cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, sales designed for consumption remain illegal in Indiana under federal law.
This comes months after lawmakers approved a bill allowing for CBD oil use by epileptic patients approved under a state cannabidiol registry.
Governor Holcomb said in a release he will be directing Excise Police to check on retailers carrying CBD oil products that contain THC. Excise Police will spend at least 60 days educating, informing and issuing warnings to retailers about removing products containing THC.
The cannabidiol oil comes from cannabis plants and most types have minimal if any THC levels. CBD's cannabis roots make it a controlled substance in many states but many allow it as a medication, including treatment for epilepsy.
Indiana lawmakers approved a bill last April legalizing it for some. And now lawmakers are pushing for a bill that allows for better access to the oil.
Families like the Jergers find themselves at the center of the debate. Their 22-month-old has myoclonic seizures. CBD helps treat the seizures, reducing them greatly. But with the uncertainty of CBD oil's legal status, they're now pushing for access to the oil for all.
"Every single day, I still worry," Lelah Jerger, mother of Jaelah Jerger, said.
Her nearly two-year-old daughter has suffered daily seizures since she was around six months old. With daily myoclonic seizures, Jerger keeps a close eye on her toddler, she has to.
"It's just really quick, two second jerks," Jerger said, describing Jaelah's seizures.
Jaelah's seizures are helped by CBD oil.
It was given to the family for the first time by a doctor in Evansville, Indiana.
"Just a couple of d rops, three times a day, and she's okay," Jerger said.
She said it's important people know her daughter is not getting high. There is not enough THC in the oil to do that. There are no side effects, Jerger said, other than Jaelah's drastically improved health.
CBD oil is not FDA approved, Jerger said, but neither are the epilepsy medications her doctor recommended to treat Jaelah's seizures.
"When everything started, I asked my doctor for medications that were FDA approved for her age and her type of epilepsy," she said. "Seems simple, but he couldn't do it."
Without the confidence of knowing the FDA approved the medicines, she said she didn't feel comfortable putting her daughter on something that could be potentially dangerous.
The family has had Child Protective Services called on them before. Jerger believes it's because the family chooses to treat Jaelah with CBD oil.
Indiana's attorney general and lawmakers are currently debating whether the CBD oil they legalized for some is legal at all in the state. Jerger said she doesn't understand why some lawmakers would fight so hard against this medication that works for so many families like hers.
"That's not just me saying it's working. There's an actual doctor, a neurologist saying it's working," Jerger said. "So why is that not good enough?"
Some Indiana lawmakers are working to put forward bills in the upcoming legislative session in January that would legalize CBD oil once and for all. When that happens, Jerger says her family will be there fighting for it.
"I feel like this year's going to be a big year," she said. "And hopefully, by the grace of God, a lot of things change."
State and federal laws differ when it comes to the legality of CBD oil.
This past year, legislation has been discussed in Congress considering the legalization of CBD oil nationwide for uses like epilepsy treatment.
In Kentucky, industrial hemp crops are popping up across the state, including The Ananda Hemp farm in Cynthiana. It now sells CBD oil extracted from the flower of the hemp plant that is available at Rainbow Blossom natural food markets.
Currently, Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is among many pushing to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances.