When federal hemp legalization became a reality late last year, Ohio was one of only a handful of states left that didn’t have a hemp pilot/research program either established or on its way to being rolled out. This left the state behind many others in the race to have hemp grown within their borders.
In an effort to rectify this, late in March the Ohio Senate passed a hemp bill (SB 57) by a unanimous vote of 30 to 0. Besides legalizing hemp cultivation and production, many hope that hemp legislation will clear up confusion caused by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy when it comes to CBD products.
The legislation currently resides in the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development committee. A fourth hearing on the bill and a possible move to the House floor should be in the bill’s near future. “We see little resistance in the House and expect a 90% passage rate,” Tim Johnson, a consultant with Cannabis Safety First in Ohio, told The Marijuana Times. “Only a few Reps have concerns primarily surrounding drug issues. Their perceptions are that of a DARE mentality and lack of knowledge to the history, values and uses of the plant.”
For his part, Tim has been spending a lot of time educating representatives in the Statehouse in Columbus. “The progress of expediting the bill has received positive support with a bipartisan effort,” Tim said. “Only a few old and new legislators present issues of concern which are quickly addressed. The bill as a whole presents a step in the right direction to end prohibition on a commodity arbitrarily placed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1.”
Having said that, obviously no piece of legislation is perfect. Some of the concerns Tim has with the current language include unwarranted background checks on cultivators and processors, acreage limits and lingering concerns over the powers of regulation vested in the state.
Advocates are targeting mid-June as a goal for getting the hemp legislation signed into law. “An emergency order is expected to be attached addressing immediate implementation procedures for creating program rules, protection status for current small businesses, protections from enforcement actions for personal use/possession and interstate transportation rights,” Tim told us.
Farmers in Ohio have been missing out for decades on a crop that is not only good for the Earth, but good for their bottom line as well. The state continues to lag behind most other states – and even now, the federal government – regarding the lessening of hemp prohibition.
Considering all the advancements made by the cannabis law reform movement, it’s hard to believe that there are still places in the U.S. where people are debating industrial hemp. Even the lies told about marijuana over the decades never held up when discussing hemp.If farmers in Ohio are forced to wait another year, they will fall even further behind their competition in surrounding states, including hemp powerhouse Kentucky. If you live in Ohio, time is running out to contact your reps and make your approval of hemp known.