Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has signed the bill legalizing hemp and CBD in the state, the Columbus Dispatch reports. According to Agriculture Department Spokeswoman Shelby Croft, the agency plans to have regulations in place by next year so farmers can start growing hemp in the spring.
The measure had overwhelming support in the Legislature, where it unanimously passed the Senate and was approved by the House 89-3.
Last year, the state Pharmacy Board declared CBD a controlled cannabis product; however, despite the ruling, businesses continued selling CBD products, according to the Dispatch. With DeWine’s signature, CBD products are immediately legalized, and retailers can sell the products without fear of crackdown.
Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Ty Higgins told the Dispatch that the state’s farming community still doesn’t know how lucrative the crop will be.
The [Ohio Department of Agriculture] and the [U.S. Department of Agriculture], they’re still learning about hemp production. And Ohio farmers are going to learn right along with them. … Nobody knows if the market will be oversaturated, or if there are market forces in place that we don’t know about yet.” – Higgins, to the Dispatch
Agriculture Department officials estimate the agency will need $12 million for a hemp testing facility and to hire laboratory technicians, according to a WOSU report.
Like other state-approved hemp programs, Ohio’s is, for now, a pilot program. It does not require farmers to partner with universities on research but the regulations will need to be approved by the USDA before the program is permanent – a requirement of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp federally.