Ohio Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) was introduced in late February and the bill will formally decriminalize hemp in Ohio by excluding it from the definition of marijuana that is used to enforce controlled substance laws. The latest federal farm bill, enacted by Congress, removed hemp from listing under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to regulate hemp through their departments of agriculture.
A vast majority of states have now enacted legislation to establish industrial hemp cultivation and production programs. Ohio did not have any specific laws in place regarding hemp or hemp products, and hemp and hemp products were prohibited in Ohio because hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana – cannabis. Therefore, hemp was considered a Schedule I controlled substance under Ohio law.
SB 57 – a bill GCP supported – passed in July and was recently signed by the Governor with a clause that specifies that it will go into effect immediately, instead of roughly 90 days after the Governor signed it. The reason is because Ohio is behind other states and the Department of Agriculture needs to set up the program so farmers can plant and have a harvest next spring. Also, the law includes provisions allowing the release of CBD products that authorities have seized under some circumstances, and the legislature wants people to be able to get their products back quickly.
In line with federal law, SB 57 allows for the sales of hemp, clearly defining hemp and marijuana as different. Our membership sees merit in aligning state and federal laws – as it relates to hemp – allowing for a responsible, reputable hemp market with the potential to expand jobs and increase prosperity in Ohio.