Ohio is a step closer towards a new hemp industry after Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law, opening the way for the state’s farmers to start growing the crop next year.
Senate Bill 57 decriminalizes hemp, makes it a legal crop for Ohio farmers to cultivate/process and allows for the creation of a hemp program that will be administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. It also clarifies hemp products including CBD (cannabidiol) oil may be sold legally in Ohio.
Introduced in February by Senators Steve Huffman and Brian Hill, SB 57 passed the Senate unanimously in April, with a 30-0 vote.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our farmers to help diversify their crops by allowing them to grow legal hemp,” said Senator Huffman. “I am excited to see how this new law will benefit the agriculture industry as well as consumers in the years to come.”
While Governor DeWine may have signed SB 57 into law, Ohio farmers keen on growing the crop will still need to wait before making a start.
“Details on how this process will operate are currently being worked out, along with the rules and regulations regarding the cultivation and processing of hemp,” says Ohio Department of Agriculture. “The goal is to have farmers licensed and able to plant the crop by spring of 2020.”
The Department also states it is now legal to sell properly inspected CBD products in Ohio, and will be testing all CBD products for safety and accurate labeling in order to protect Ohio consumers.
Ohio was one of a handful of hemp holdout states that hadn’t enacted legislation by the end of last year. The others – Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and New Hampshire – currently have legislation in the works. While it was once a race to see which states would be among the first to again embrace hemp, it’s now about avoiding being the last.
As in many other U.S states, hemp played a significant role in Ohio’s agriculture sector prior to prohibition. Farmers in the south of the state grew the crop, which was used to make rope and cloth. While hemp fibre and food will no doubt be products derived from the new hemp crops, the extraction of cannabidiol still remains where the big bucks lie. However, with so much cannabidiol production to occur in the years ahead in the USA it should be good news for consumers as prices will likely drop.