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Ohio Cities Need New Tech To Distinguish Hemp From Marijuana

Vape cartridges are on display durIng the CBD Express store grand opening in Salem, Ore.
Timothy J. Gonzalez
Associated Press
Vape cartridges are on display durIng the CBD Express store grand opening in Salem, Ore.

The backer of a new law legalizing hemp and CBD oil in Ohio says law enforcement officials will soon have access to new testing technology that will be able to easily distinguish the amount of THC in a product.

That testing is needed in order for cities to comply with the new law. But at least one city isn't waiting and is making a change to its enforcement policies right now.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says the new law mandates hemp and CBD oil must contain less than 3% of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He says there's a problem.

“We do not have the technology to determine the percentage of THC in a substance," Klein says.

Klein says that’s why the city will no longer prosecute for small amounts of pot possession though he says it still makes sense to use more expensive tests that are available now to continue to pursue trafficking and operating a vehicle while impared cases.

Republican State Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), the backer of the new law, says he’s heard similar complaints from other cities. However he says none of them actually testified against the bill when it was under consideration.

“I agree and understand," Huffman says.

Huffman says the state hasn't issued a license for hemp production yet. He says that won't likely happen for a few months. He said a new, more affordable testing procedure is in the works.

The new law had bipartisan support. Most states already allow hemp and CBD oils. Huffman notes people have been transporting it through Ohio all along. He says this new law allows similar business opportunities to farmers and retailers in Ohio.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.