Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce co-founder Tim Johnson submitted testimony on behalf of Chamber members, CBD users, Ohio farmers and others favoring hemp legalization during debate over Senate Bill 57 in Columbus this week. The bill, which will legalize industrial hemp and hemp products in Ohio, was sent to Governor Mike DeWine for his signature, and he is expected to sign the measure. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that does not produce enough of the psychoactive compound THC to create the “high” that its cousin marijuana is known for.

Johnson, owner of Cannabis Safety First, a security company catering to the cannabis industry, voiced the Chamber’s concern that over-regulation could make Ohio’s hemp farmers less competitive than those in surrounding states. The hemp industry has boomed in neighboring Kentucky, which tallied nearly $60 million in gross sales in 2018—more than three and a half times the 2017 figure. Industrial hemp cultivation and processing has created nearly 500 jobs and attracted over $24 million in capital investment in the Bluegrass state alone.

When signed by Governor DeWine, Senate Bill 57 will take effect immediately.

Hemp is used to manufacture products such as textiles, paper, food and beverage products, cosmetics, soaps, and even a building material called “hempcrete.” Hemp is also a source of CBD oil, a natural, non-intoxicating dietary supplement and popular home remedy for pain and inflammation that is legal virtually everywhere else in the United States.

Senate Bill 57 aims to clarify Ohio’s medical marijuana legalization statutes. The original medical marijuana bill failed to distinguish between the psychoactive marijuana plant and the hemp plant, which resulted in the Ohio Board of Pharmacy regulating non-psychoactive CBD oil as though it were marijuana. Although many Ohio CBD retailers ignored the Board of Pharmacy’s pronouncement, and kept CBD products on the shelves, some retailers across the State have been subject to police raids and confiscations.

Read more: Ohio General Assembly passes bill to legalize hemp and CBD products

Want to support the advocacy and education efforts of the Ohio Cannabis Chamber of Commerce? Learn more about Chamber membership benefits here.