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Ohio Legalizes Hemp

Hemp is no longer the same as marijuana under Ohio law. So, if your plant or product makes you high, check your sourcing, because it’s likely not hemp.

State policymakers enacted S.B.57, essentially legalizing hemp and hemp products, paralleling federal law, and setting up a regulatory scheme for cultivating the plant, which is no longer considered a controlled substance.

Under federal and Ohio law, legal hemp is the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant including the seeds, all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than three-tenths percent on a dry weight basis (R.C. 928.01[C]).

The key detail to remember is that hemp cannot contain more than .3% THC. Similarly, a “hemp product” is any product containing no more than .3% THC and any other product containing one or more cannabinoids derived from hemp. Plus, the addition of hemp or a hemp product to any other product does not adulterate that other product (R.C. 928.02[D]).

The Hemp Act amended the definition of “marijuana” at R.C. 3719.01 to state: “marijuana” does not include “hemp” or a “hemp product”, and R.C. 4729.01(E)(4) now states that “drug” does not include “hemp” or “hemp product.”

The bill also allows for the immediate sale of CBD oil so long as it is hemp-derived within specific parameters.

Regulatory Impact

For those looking to cultivate and process hemp in Ohio, the Director of Agriculture is preparing rules within the process under the Ohio Administrative Procedures Act, and, once complete, will submit the plan to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for approval to comply with Congress’s 2018 Farm Bill.

In addition, the Ohio Attorney General, in connection with the National Association of Attorneys General, has asked the FDA to continue examining manufacturing, testing, and marketing best practices for cannabis and cannabis-based compounds so that consumers are not at risk of misleading advertising or harm to their health from dangerous additives or undisclosed risks of use. Attorneys General are looking for guidance on potential risks or benefits and scientific or medical data as they prepare to enforce consumer protection laws as CBD products become mainstream. Industry areas of vulnerability include CBD product advertisements and health claims, particularly as they relate to specific populations, such as pregnant women, adolescents, or the elderly.

Meanwhile, the FDA has already demonstrated a willingness to contact companies whose product labeling or advertising suggests certain health or drug claims not supported by rigorous studies and testing.

Impact on Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program

Marijuana cultivation, processing, dispensing and use – even for medical purposes – remains federally illegal.

From a state perspective, an Ohio-licensed medical marijuana processor with a certificate to operate may include CBD oil derived from certified hemp as a non-drug, non-marijuana ingredient in medical marijuana products. Such ingredients would be treated as any other non-marijuana ingredient subject to Ohio regulations. See O.A.C. 3796:3-2-01(C).

Otherwise, the state removed the hemp issue completely out of the hands of the State Board of Pharmacy and the entire MMCP. S.B.57 did not legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Our team of professionals is well-positioned and experienced to assist with specific questions and concerns about Hemp and Medical Marijuana Laws. If you have questions or concerns on this topic, feel free to contact any of our team members. 

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