The Ohio Senate has passed a bill to legalize hemp and hemp-derived cannabinol oil. This is a measure that can potentially create a massive industrial hemp industry in the state of Ohio.
The bill was unanimously approved on Thursday. It allows for the cultivation of hemp as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the physiologically active ingredient in marijuana that makes users high. This legislation comes quickly after a federal farm law reclassified hemp as a commodity rather than a drug in 2018.
“It is important to understand that hemp is not marijuana, it is much more versatile and lacks an appreciable amount of THC to cause any psychotropic effects,”
Republican Senator Steve Huffman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement Thursday. “This is an incredible opportunity for our farmers to help diversify their crops by allowing them to grow legal hemp.”
The passing of this bill is beneficial for farmers and retailers. Both have supported the legislation, saying it can bring new jobs to Ohio. Fibers from hemp can be used to manufacture clothing, cosmetics, rope and a medley of other items.
Moving forward the hemp bill requires the state Department of Agriculture, Governor, and Attorney General to convene and develop a plan. The plan must include details to regulate, license for three years, and inspect the cultivation and processing of hemp. They must also submit a plan to the federal government for approval.
Program operations would be funded, at least initially, through fees paid by licensees.
Julie Doran, with the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative, told The Columbus Dispatch that she receives calls and emails from farmers daily. “They’re really trying to jump into this industry,” Doran said.
“It’s imperative that Ohio moves quickly so our farmers can take advantage of a domestic hemp marketplace to catch up with other neighboring states,” Republican Senator Brian Hill, who also co-sponsored the bill, told The Blade of Toledo.
The hemp bill now heads to the House for consideration.