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  • Alec Chenkus

Is CBD Legal in Ohio?

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Graphic with the Text, "What is the Legal Status of CBD in Ohio"
Is CBD Legal in Ohio?

We receive a lot of inquiries here at OMC regarding CBD (cannabidiol) oil and its legal status. And there’s no wonder that there’s confusion in the public, as the constantly shifting landscape of CBD laws have made it difficult to stay up-to-date.

The catalyst was the Agricultural Act of 2014, which finally opened the door for states to cultivate hemp for research via federal pilot programs, mainly university-based. While this bill has since expired, in December of last year President Trump signed into law the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which included language from the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. With the passage of this law, industrial hemp was officially defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, distinguishing hemp from marijuana in the federal government’s eyes!

That seems pretty straight forward; hemp is now an agricultural commodity like corn, so what’s the problem? Well, unfortunately, it’s because hemp is still illegal in Ohio. According to the Enquirer, Ohio law, including Ohio’s medical marijuana program, make no distinction between hemp and marijuana. This is the reason why Ohioans have recently been hearing from their local stores, or on the news, that CBD products can no longer be sold in Ohio outside of an approved Ohio dispensary.

What is Hemp-derived CBD?

Infographic Showing the Many Uses of the Hemp Plant
The various uses of the hemp plant; mainly textile-based.

This is the type of CBD oil that you will find in local convenience stores or being sold online. This CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp, which contains significantly less CBD compared to cannabis-derived CBD. According to Green Relief California, hemp plants contain only about 3-5% CBD, and require a large amount of plant to produce a small amount of hemp CBD oil. Compare that to cannabis-derived CBD which typically contain everywhere from 18-20% CBD and includes more than 0.3% THC.

What is more concerning is due to the lower yields of effective CBD oil from industrial hemp, it requires a massive amount of hemp which increases risks of contaminates. And why risk using this, especially considering hemp-derived CBD does not include critical terpenes and cannabinoids that weaken and limit the possible therapeutic benefits?

What is the Quality of Most Commercial CBD Brands?

While it is natural to react negatively to yanking CBD products off of Ohio shelves, there are legitimate health concerns that need to be considered. CBD oil is not cheap, and there are “snake oil” brands out there taking advantage of patients. The problem is very similar in nature to the herbal supplement market not too long ago, where there was very little regulation and was consequently rampant with unfounded claims. Regulations would increase knowledge on proper dosing, the safest ingredients to make it, and a consistency of quality.

  • Testing of CBD Products: Sure, the commercial CBD retailers include their ingredients on the labelling. But how do you know the quality? When using any type of CBD products, you want to see the tests. Does it have THC in it? Did it pass pesticide and contaminate testing? How much of each cannabinoid is featured in the product? There are no real labeling standards for CBD oil, meaning companies can fraudulently promote the product as “organic” or “homemade” with no proof available.

  • Dosage of CBD Products: Then it comes to the effectiveness of the product you’re buying. If the batch of crop that they used was weak, then that means the dosage you’re getting will be less effective - which means having to consistently use more. I always suggest looking for a tincture that is at minimum 1,000 mg total. Brands like Extract Labs from Colorado even offer options in 2,000 mg and 4,000 mg with full-spectrum properties.

  • Full-Spectrum CBD Products: While most people are familiar with CBD, most might be interested to learn that this is just one of many therapeutic compounds found in cannabis. CBD is known for having the following properties: reducing anxiety, reducing spasms, aids sleep, muscle relaxant, antioxidant, increases appetite, reduces nausea, pain relief, and has links to inhibit cancer and tumor cell growth; and also includes the cannabinoid CBDv most popular for its anticonvulsant effects.

Other cannabinoids that have been found to have therapeutic benefits include, CBDa, CBN, CBG/CBGv, and CBC, among others. When it comes to hemp-derived CBD products, these will very rarely be considered full-spectrum, however cannabis-derived CBD will naturally include these additional cannabinoids.

Note: If a CBD product has been “distilled” - a common extraction process - these will NOT be full-spectrum.

What is Cannabis-Derived CBD and the Entourage Effect?

While the obvious benefits to full-spectrum CBD products is the inclusion of all of these different cannabinoids, it has an even more dramatic effect! As a result of including all of these different cannabinoids you’ll also receive the benefits of what is called the entourage effect. Popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo, the entourage effect theorizes that cannabinoids are more therapeutically effective when multiple cannabinoids act in synergy rather than taken in isolation of one another.

For best results, the entourage effect should include a small ratio of THC, THCv, and/or THCa. Although some patients might be hesitant to try these products in fear of the psychoactive effects, the amazing benefit of combining CBD and THC is that CBD is known to interfere and compete with the effects of THC, meaning that you get the additional benefits of the THC without the added psychoactive component!

(Keep an eye out for an article discussing the many different cannabinoids and compounds found in medical marijuana, as well as a detailed explanation of the most active compounds and their effects.)

Infographic Comparing the Differences Between Hemp Oil and Cannabis Oil
The major differences between hemp- and cannabis-derived CBD oil.

Hope on the Horizon in Ohio

So how does all of this relate to Ohio? Well, just this week The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Ohio lawmakers will, for the first time, consider lifting the state’s ban on hemp cultivation and processing. The bill, which was introduced to the Ohio Senate and sponsored by Republican Senators Steve Huffman and Brian Hill, would legalize hemp-derived CBD product - not cannabis-derived CBD. According to the Enquirer, under the current form of the bill Ohio hemp would be regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there would be no licensing required to sell or make hemp products, and an estimated cultivation license fee should cost between $500 and $1,000.

While this would open the door for Ohio cultivation of industrial hemp, processing those plants into consumable or ingestable forms requires oversight from the FDA. After the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, the FDA released the following statement:

“We’re aware of the growing public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD). This increasing public interest in these products makes it even more important with the passage of this law for the FDA to clarify its regulatory authority over these products. In short, we treat products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds as we do any other FDA-regulated products — meaning they’re subject to the same authorities and requirements as FDA-regulated products containing any other substance...In particular, we continue to be concerned at the number of drug claims being made about products not approved by the FDA that claim to contain CBD or other cannabis-derived compounds. Among other things, the FDA requires a cannabis product (hemp-derived or otherwise) that is marketed with a claim of therapeutic benefit, or with any other disease claim, to be approved by the FDA for its intended use before it may be introduced into interstate commerce.”

It’s natural to see this statement and just see it as the federal government trying to get their hands into every industry. And while this may be true for particular agencies, the FDA’s mission is to protect the health and safety of consumers. There is obvious concern due to the fact that repressive restrictions haltered research and education on CBD, it seems like only the biggest companies can get access to CBD cultivation, and there is a dramatic lack of testing done on most of these products being sold with grandiose claims attached.

So while it may seem as though it would not be worthwhile to look into Ohio’s medical marijuana program if you want to avoid THC entirely, it might be worth a second thought when considering the assurance of lab tested quality as well as the additional benefits of the entourage effect. Industrial hemp was bred for entirely different reasons than the cannabis-sativa plant: industrial hemp is designed for purposes such as textiles, whereas cannabis has evolved as a vehicle for medical and recreational purposes.

Buying CBD in Ohio

Ohio dispensaries will feature exclusively cannabis-derived CBD products that have been meticulously tested by independent labs in order to verify the claims producers make with these products; the entourage effect of these products will increase the medicinal benefit of the products; and businesses involved in the OMMCP are incentivized to provide only the highest-quality products, in fear of being forced to destroy their products and take a massive loss.

All of these characteristics mean that you can feel confident when buying products in Ohio dispensaries, once CBD products become available. Currently, the expected date of CBD products on Ohio dispensaries is slated for April as the State conducts final inspections and provides processors with their license of operation. For now, Ohio patients have marijuana in the form of flower, which will naturally include a mix of THC and CBD; although with a dominance of THC, at the moment.

Infographic Explaining the Different Ways to Take CBD Oil
The different forms of CBD that will be available at Ohio dispensaries.



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