COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Governor Mike DeWine has signed a bill that allows the cultivation of hemp. The Department of Agriculture will draft rules to regulate licensing to those who want to produce the plant.

Kirk Merritt is the Executive Director for the Ohio Soy Bean Association. He explained that this is a welcome option for his membership.

“We think it’s a great way for farmers to diversify and expand their profitability,” said Merritt.

There will be extensive paperwork and government regulation. Right now the Ohio Department of Agriculture is trying to get rules and procedures in place by the end of December.

“We hope and anticipate that farmers will be able to grow hemp in Ohio next spring,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda.

Basically, whoever applies to grow the new cash crop in Ohio must be a good business person who understands rules and regulations.

“That’s true in agriculture generally,” Merritt emphasized. “Farmers are used to that. I think farmers will be fine with that.”

Currently, the department of AG is pulling samples of CBD products off of shelves around the state to test for truth in labeling. This means that a product cannot claim that it will cure a disease or any other type of medicinal use.

One of the most important parts of the bill is research. Currently, Ohio is looking to other states that have a seed program to make sure that the plants will comply with regulations and actually grow.

“This is where the universities will come into play,” said Pelanda. “Testing seed, to make sure that it will grow well in Northease Ohio or Southwest Ohio.”

Pelanda mentioned that there will probably be two lists of seeds: prohibited and certified seeds. This way farmers will not waste money growing a product that will not comply with the law. The law now states that hemp cannot produce more than .3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.) This chemical is found in both hemp and marijuana. If the percentage is higher, the plant will be destroyed according to the law.

Be sure to watch the one on one interview with the Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda to understand what the department is doing right now and into the next six months.

You can visit the state’s website for questions and answers.