The Ohio General Assembly has passed a measure that would allow Ohio farmers and university researchers to grow industrial hemp and would legalize sales of hemp-derived cannabidiol oil, or CBD.
Federal legislation last year removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances and now treats the low-THC version of the cannabis plant like other agricultural crops. But Ohio’s recent medical marijuana law doesn't differentiate between marijuana and hemp – leading to confusion among retailers.
Despite guidance released last year by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, which clarified its ban on CBD oil, many retailers refused to stop selling the product. The state said it would not enforce the ban.
The newly passed Ohio legislation would allow for cultivation of hemp as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC, the cannabis compound that gives marijuana its high. It would be regulated by the state.
State Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) says Ohio is one of a handful of states that hadn't previously allowed hemp cultivation.
"It is imperative that Ohio moves quickly so that our farmers can take advantage of a domestic hemp marketplace and catch up with our neighboring states," Koehler says.
Ohio farmers and the business community backed the bill.
The measure was sent to Gov. Mike DeWine for consideration. He's expected to sign it into law soon, and it would take effect immediately.