In 2019 Indiana hemp companies challenge Indiana’s ban of smokable hemp. In the lower court case, they won and the law was suspended. However, recently a federal appeals court ruled that a lower judge went too far in blocking the law.
With the ruling, the law banning smokable hemp has been reinstated. Indiana can now enforce the law, which bans the “manufacture, possession, and sale of smokable hemp products”. The case will now return to a lower court to refine the injunction that “sweeps too broadly”, according to the 7th District Court of Appeals in Chicago.
In their initial court case, the hemp companies argued that the federal law guarantees interstate commerce in hemp, which therefore makes it illegal for Indiana to ban the possession of smokable hemp products (which potentially pass through the state). The appeals court ruled that part of the law may be worthy of an injunction due to implications on interstate commerce, but the overall law did not merit an injunction.
Of note, the appeals court noted that Indiana’s smokable hemp ban specifically exempt transporters moving smokable hemp products from another state through Indiana, as long as the products were destined to be sold outside of Indiana. The appeals court also noted that the hemp companies that sued over Indiana’s smokable hemp law may not have the best standing to challenge it, because they’re not transporting hemp from another state through Indiana.
The case will now return to federal court in Indianapolis, which has been instructed to weigh Indiana’s right to regulate hemp against language in federal law. Federal law prevents states from blocking interstate commerce in the hemp industry. This ruling continues the confusion in the United States when it comes to smokable hemp. Several states have already banned its production including Iowa, Texas, and Louisiana.