On Tuesday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an official opinion on the sale of cannabidiol and announced “products or substances marketed for human consumption or ingestion, and containing cannabidiol, remain unlawful in Indiana, and under federal law.”
The opinion goes on to state that “Simply put, cannabidiol is a Schedule I controlled substance because marijuana (cannabis sativa) is a Schedule I controlled substance.”
But the ruling and subsequent fallout for users or sellers of the oil isn’t so simple.
Pulled from the shelves
The CBD oil sold at Bedford’s Advanced Audiology and Hearing Care has been pulled off the shelf, according to office manager Laura Baker.
“We’re just kind of waiting to see what’s going on,” Baker said.
She explained that until the business has a better grasp of what is happening, she figured it was better to wait before doing something that could cause an issue.
However, Crystal Stailey, a representative for Young Living Essential Oils who takes and sells CBD oil, is upset with Hill’s ruling and wasn’t sure what to do immediately.
Stailey said she learned about CBD oil from her husband. She was interested in learning more about the oil for her own health, as well as the potential to sell the product.
Stailey was dealing with pain issues and taking prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. Following surgery, she began to take the hemp oil and had results in about four days. “I was pain free without taking my antiinflammmatory,” she said.
Stailey said she’d sought help with her pain in various forms.
“I have tried bone broth. I’ve tried adjusting my diet, because there are some foods out there that you can eat that cause inflammatory response in your body. So I tried doing that,” Stailey said.
Unfortunately, all those efforts failed. Even with her prescribed medication, Stailey said, she was never completely pain free. With the oil, she takes a few drops in the morning and will use the oil again later if she feels sore.
“As far as I understood, according to the laws that they had in place, it was OK to take CBD hemp oil if it was below a certain percentage,” she said.
After Hill’s ruling, Stailey didn’t know what to do. She was angry, because she felt the product was safe and legal. It also helped her relieve her pain. She said users have also been angry, and she’s reached out to the company to try and get more information. In the meantime, she’s planning to return the product to the company.
“That’s all I can do,” she said.
Hill’s ruling, however, won’t stop Maddie Taylor. A nurse for 20 years who works with Dr. Matt Andry, she sells and takes the oil. When word came out about Hill’s decision, Taylor said her phone was “blowing up” with text messages and emails from clients.
“These people, this has given back their quality of life, given them back their livelihood,” Taylor said.
“I have no intention of stopping what I’m doing,” she said.
Determining what is legal can be a challenge. A Manufacturer Certification issued by PurhealthRX states that its 7 Hemp CBD Oil is made from industrial hemp, and that it is not a CBD oil. The company’s 7 Hemp CBD Oil is available online, through medical offices and through its ambassadors.
Baker said that their distributor has told them it is OK to sell the oil. “Ours is water soluble, but it’s not considered an oil,” she said. Despite that assurance, Baker said it still didn’t change their decision to pull the product.
Dr. Karl Buch from Bedford’s Health Care Center and Dr. Andry from Bloomington both tout the use of the oil as a life-changer for patients. “We have multiple patients that have shown huge benefits from this product,” Buch said.
But not all CBD oil is the same.
“CBD and hemp oil, they’re not the same thing. No one knows the difference or has been talking about the difference,” Andry said. He said that’s why patients will sometimes try different types of oil.
However, the oil doesn’t work for everyone. Both Andry and Buch said only about 75 percent of the people who have tried the oil feel the effects and benefit from it. But if people think the oil will have an effect similar to marijuana, they’re wrong. The oil Buch and Andry use has no THC. In fact, both doctors oppose medical marijuana.
“This is not medical marijuana, and it’s not in that category,” Buch said.
“We don’t want to recommend that for patients,” Andry said of medical marijuana.
Concern for users
Businesses aren’t the only ones confused about the new ruling. Users of the oil — who tout various health benefits and relief from chronic conditions — are worried about running out.
“We have a lot of patients that are like ‘Are we going to be able to get it, because it has been helping a lot,’” Baker said.
Taylor said her job as a nurse means she is to take care of people. Based on Hill’s opinion, she feels that what she is selling falls within the legal parameters. She began selling the oil in July, and she’s seen the difference it makes.
When hosting meetings about the oil, she said, she hears new stories every time from users whose lives have been changed and improved.
“I cry every single time just to see the people who didn’t have any hope have hope now. It makes me really happy, and I get to go through that every week,” she said, with her voice cracking. “It’s a great thing. It’s a great blessing in life to be able to give people back hope that didn’t have it before.”
But patients are worried. Those who have seen relief are concerned that they will no longer be able to buy the product. Andry, who is a clinical associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said based on the product’s ingredients and the law, there shouldn’t be an issue with patients buying and using the product.
Andry said Tuesday’s ruling created a run on the product, with some patients buying as much as possible. He admits that the ruling is a bit of an ethical dilemma. He’s found the CBD oil he sells to be helpful, safe and non-addictive. Other pain and anxiety medications are much more dangerous, he said, as they are addictive and there can be a risk of overdose.
“This was an alternative that was safe and effective, and now I’m in an ethical place that I don’t know what to do,” Andry said.
As Indiana’s Legislature prepares to tackle the legality of CBD oil, Andry said education is important for the public and lawmakers.
When he was in medical school, Andry said, he wasn’t taught about the endocannabinoid system. This recently discovered hormone system controls and influences every other body system. Being low in endocannabinoids may be a reason that people feel relief from CBD oil.
Part of the problem is the confusion over Hill’s opinion and the law. Andry said the law is unclear, and since no two oils are the same, it’s difficult for patients to know if what they are taking is OK by law. Andry said the full-spectrum hemp oil he sells is referred to as a CBD oil. By his interpretation of the law, the hemp oil is legal.
With so much concern over pain medications that can lead to addiction, Andry and Buch both hope that hemp oil can be accepted as a way to safely treat pain without getting people high or addicted.
Andry said he’s offered to testify and looks forward to sharing what the medical profession knows about hemp oil.
“The information is fairly straightforward,” Andry said. “It doesn’t have to be a long discussion. Once they see that, and they see the data behind it, I think they’ll feel more confident.”
“This was an alternative that was safe and effective, and now I’m in an ethical place that I don’t know what to do.”