The Senate of Ohio has unanimously passed a bill to legalize hemp-derived cannabidiol and hemp as well as develop a state’s industrial hemp program. With the latest development, Ohio residents would be allowed to cultivate hemp as long as it has less than 0.3 percent THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that makes users “high.” The bill that was unanimously approved on Thursday comes after a 2018 federal farm law, which reclassified hemp from a drug to a commodity.
“Hemp is not marijuana as it is much more versatile and contains insignificant amounts of THC that would not cause any psychotropic effects, so it is important to understand that,” said a co-sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Steve Huffman in his Thursday’s statement. “The legislation offers a great opportunity for our farmers as it will allow them to diversify and grow legal hemp.”
Besides, both retailers and farmers have backed the new legislation claiming that it will greatly help in creating new jobs in Ohio.
Hemp fibers can be used for different applications like to manufacture ropes, cosmetics, clothing, and other items.
The new legislation would require the governor, attorney general and the state Department of Agriculture to develop a plan to regulate, license for three years, and inspect hemp cultivation and processing. After that, the plan should be sent to the federal government for approval.
The fees paid by licenses would be used to fund the program operations, at least initially.
Many states now allow farmers within their jurisdiction to begin planting and harvesting hemp after adopting a pilot hemp program, which is legal under the federal law.
According to Adam Sharp (executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation), farmers are always looking for new opportunities to diversify their operations.
While speaking to The Columbus Dispatch, Julie Doran, with the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative said that she receives lots of emails and calls from farmers daily.
“These are mainly people who really want to venture into this industry,” said Doran.
Brian Hill (Republican Senator), who also co-sponsored the invoice, emphasized on the need to move with speed on the lawmaking.
“It is important that our state moves with speed to enable the farmers to take advantage of a domestic hemp marketplace and to catch up with other states,” Republican Sen. Brian Hill, told The Blade of Toledo.
Finally, the bill is now set to head to the Senate for consideration.