Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio signed a bill on Tuesday that legalizes hemp agriculture and sales of products made from the crop, including CBD. The measure, Senate Bill Number 57, decriminalizes hemp cultivation and establishes a system to license growers and processors. DeWine signed the bill on Tuesday morning during an appearance at the Ohio State Fair.
The bill also removes hemp derivatives other than THC from the state’s list of controlled substances, opening the door in Ohio for legal sales of CBD oil for use as a dietary or health supplement. Under previous state law, hemp was a Schedule I controlled substance like all other varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. Senate Bill 57 amended state law so that it now conforms with the federal legalization of hemp passed by Congress with the 2018 Farm Bill.
S.B. 57 also requires that CBD oil previously confiscated be returned to the seller, provided that the product conforms with federal law. In August of last year, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy released a statement requiring CBD products to be sold only at state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. That decision led many retailers to pull CBD products from their shelves while some openly flaunted the ruling. Others had their merchandise confiscated and embargoed by authorities.
Rules for Hemp Program Already Being Drafted
The bill tasks the Ohio Department of Agriculture with creating a regulatory system to license hemp farmers and processors. Rules for the program are already being drafted and there are currently no plans to limit the number of licenses, which should be available by next year’s growing season. Dorothy Pelanda, the director of the agriculture department, said that staff at the agency have been studying hemp regulatory programs in other states in anticipation of creating the rules for Ohio.
“We want to make sure that Ohio has the very best hemp program in the nation,” Pelanda said, adding that she anticipates no problems drafting the regulations within the six-month time limit mandated by the bill.
The measure signed by DeWine on Tuesday also authorizes a hemp research program for the state. Ohio State University plans to purchase 2,000 hemp plants next week to study growing methods, pests, pathogens, and other issues.
Hemp Legalization Brings Economic Opportunity
Farmers and small business owners in Ohio have been eager to get into the growing CBD market, estimated to reach $26 billion by 2023. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation has estimated that hemp could potentially be the state’s third most valuable crop after corn and soybeans.
Dave Arend opened his Your CBD Store in Anderson Township, Ohio despite the rule that CBD products be sold only in medical marijuana dispensaries. He said that the bill should lead to more customers coming to the store.
“I think this removes the stigma that what we sell is medical marijuana,’’ Arend said. “It’s not, and we definitely anticipate a lot more customers who want the benefit of CBD without the high of medical marijuana.’’
S.B. 57 goes into effect immediately with DeWine’s signature. The bill was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives earlier this month after being approved by the state Senate in March.