State Representative Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) today provided clarity regarding the implementation of Senate Bill 57, which was recently signed by Governor Mike DeWine. Now enacted, SB 57 decriminalized hemp and provides a structure for the creation of a hemp program by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Hemp is a plant grown for its use in textiles, cosmetics, food, and nutritional supplements such as CBD oil. Hemp and marijuana are of the same genus, but hemp may legally contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
In response to questions about the ability of Ohio law enforcement to pursue marijuana-related charges now that hemp is legal in the state, Koehler provided the following statement:
“Recreational marijuana is not now, nor was it ever intended by the legislature to be, legalized in the State of Ohio. State and local authorities continue to be empowered to enforce the law to protect citizens from marijuana traffickers.”
Koehler’s statement follows Attorney General Dave Yost’s statements made during today’s announcement of the Marijuana Testing Initiative, a grant program which will provide $50,000 in funding for law enforcement agencies to have large quantities of marijuana tested in accredited laboratories that have the capabilities to quantify THC.
“The Ohio legislature did not legalize marijuana for recreational purposes with Senate Bill 57. They didn’t do it by accident, they didn’t do it on purpose – marijuana is not legal for recreational purposes in Ohio,” Attorney General Yost said in a Tuesday press conference.
Law enforcement remain empowered to pursue misdemeanor and felony charges against those suspected to be in possession of marijuana. Under the provisions of SB 57, farmers are required to obtain a license to grow hemp. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has not yet issued these licenses.