Senate Bill 57 positions Ohio hemp industry for a breakout – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Senate Bill 57 positions Ohio hemp industry for a breakout - Crain's Cleveland Business

CBD manufacturer Clean Remedies of Rocky River is in a similar position. Its CEO, Amherst native Meredith Farrow, also runs a hemp processing operation in Oregon called Green Mile Enterprises that white-labels several products for other companies.

Clean Remedies products are in some 300 stores in about 30 states, Farrow said. She just launched the Ohio company last year and is expecting a big uptick in sales with Ohio’s hemp laws finally in place.

“It’s definitely going to open doors for bigger-box stores based in Ohio,” she said.

She also plans to apply for a hemp processing license in Ohio. But she won’t be able to do that until the Department of Agriculture establishes rules for licensing farmers and processors.

That will be worked on through the next six months or so, said Dorothy Pelanda, director of the Department of Agriculture, with the goal of farmers being able to plant crops next spring.

While rules are not out yet, Pelanda said there will be no limits on who can apply to grow or process hemp, and no licenses required for manufacturers — like ZuRI or Clean Remedies — mixing hemp compounds with other products.

Ohio farmers are clamoring for hemp, particularly those reeling from tariffs and prices on cash crops likes corn and soybeans that have been dropping since 2012.

“What we know is SB 57 puts Ohio on a level playing field with states that do have legislation already in place and can grow industrial hemp,” said Ty Higgins, spokesperson for the Ohio Farm Bureau. “It’s a way for farmers to diversify operations and add in a crop that might be an additional revenue stream for them.”

One of those aspiring farmers is Julie Doran, founder of the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative, who wants to plant hemp at her family’s Doran Farm in the Columbus area. Doran also runs Meigs Fertilizer, which is marketed toward cannabis, and a small CBD line called #Hemp.

“This is a really great opportunity for farmers,” she said. “They’ve been through a lot these past few years with the tariffs and weather this year. Farmers need a new crop because they’re not making a lot of money in corn or soybeans or wheat.”

The Department of Agriculture planted hemp at its research farm in Columbus on Aug. 1 in order to begin studying it.

Research institutions, like Ohio State University, will have to apply to be registered with the state, but don’t have to be officially licensed.

The school already formed a Hemp Task Force with its faculty, Central State University and the state and is finalizing plans to buy 2,000 hemp plants to be grown both indoors and outdoors at three or four locations across Ohio.

“It is too late in the season to expect anything planted outdoors to go to maturity, but we are still interested in getting our faculty used to working with this crop,” said Gary Pierzynski, associate dean for research and graduate education at OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “For future work, we will be working on traditional agronomics — soil fertility, planting dates, pest control, varietal evaluations, etc. — plus eventually more basic work such as breeding and genetics. Simultaneously, we hope to work on additional uses for hemp fiber to help develop markets.”

Back on the consumer products front, Pelanda said her department’s food safety division has already begun looking for any products that may be claiming to cure diseases immediately and is directing sellers to desist. That’s part of a “truth in labeling” initiative, she said, which will also involve testing products in the future.

“We are about making sure people have correct information about what they’re buying in Ohio,” Pelanda said.

But the department also needs some money to work with because the hemp bill was passed without any budget appropriations. Pelanda said she plans to ask for a hemp-related budget of $12 million later this month.

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