Farmers will soon be able to grow and process hemp in Ohio, after Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation this week removing its prohibitions.
Before that can happen though, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) must develop a formal program and rules, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will need to approve.
Hemp contains a fiber, grain, and oil that can be extracted for cannabidiol (CBD), which is now being used in food and dietary supplements.
Both hemp producers and processors need to apply for a license to grow or process their products to be in compliance with state and federal law. Those licenses will be valid for three years. A critical factor for the hemp industry is ensuring that THC levels remain below three-tenths of one percent. ODA will also be testing CBD and hemp products for safety and accurate labeling to protect Ohio consumers.
In addition, the new law creates a hemp marketing program, or check-off. This program will create an assessment of one-half of one percent of the value of hemp seed, fiber, or flower at the first point of sale. Hemp production will be an eligible commodity for the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program.
The Food and Drug Administration will assess the safety of CBD and determine if it can be safely added to foods and dietary supplements. They also need to ensure consistent strength in CBD products, safe manufacturing processes, and accurate labeling of these products.
The USDA, according to Undersecretary Greg Ibach, aims to issue a regulation in time for the 2020 crop season, which will spell out guidelines for state and tribal oversight of industrial hemp. Hemp will also be eligible for federal crop insurance through the Whole Farm Revenue Program.
ODA has created a web page to explain the hemp program and gather information from those interested in growing or processing the crop.