Historically, hemp was grown in Ohio for rope and other similar materials. Today, hemp can be used for clothing, paper, carpeting, construction materials, auto parts, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food products and other things. Hemp is also ripe for research both for its ability to aid in improving water quality, and to improve herbicide knowledge. Unfortunately, prohibition at the state and federal level has required importation of these products into our market, mainly from China. Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) unleashes Ohio industry by ending this prohibition.
The latest farm bill enacted by Congress removed hemp from listing under the Controlled Substances Act and allows states to regulate hemp through their departments of agriculture. SB 57, which the Ohio Chamber of Commerce supports, creates this framework in Ohio by decriminalizing hemp for state law purposes and establishing the hemp cultivation licensing program within the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Consistent with federal law, entities looking to cultivate hemp will be required to undergo a license process that may include a background check. The bill also explicitly authorizes anyone to possess, buy or sell hemp or hemp products without a license.
The bill quickly cleared the Senate last month and is currently receiving hearings in the House. During testimony, several organizations noted the confusion in Ohio of whether products derived from hemp, including oils and other retail products, fall under the authority of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s medical marijuana control program. Several legislators in the House also noted efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to examine food and other retail products containing hemp and suggested changing the bill to allow the growing of hemp to begin while the state awaits further action by the FDA. The Ohio Chamber is pleased to support Ohio’s potential hemp industry and encourages SB 57’s quick passage to clear the confusion and allow hemp cultivation to begin.