Ohio Attorney General Announces Major Marijuana Trafficking Grant Program

The signing of Senate Bill 57 by Ohio governor Mike DeWine in July decriminalized hemp and laid the groundwork for a statewide system of licensing and regulation.

The bill also recognized the difference between hemp and THC-rich forms of cannabis.

Marihuana does not include hemp or a hemp product,” states the bill. “As those terms are defined in section 928.01 of the Revised Code.”

In light of the new law’s distinction between hemp and marijuana, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced on August 7 that his office would be halting misdemeanor cannabis prosecutions and dismissing any current pending misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.

Klein said that, without the proper technology to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, the City Attorney’s Office would not be able to prosecute misdemeanor possession cases beyond a reasonable doubt.

On Tuesday, August 13, Ohio Attorney General David Yost announced the creation of a Major Marijuana Trafficking Grant Program to assist law enforcement in distinguishing between hemp and marijuana.

“Just because the law changed, it doesn’t mean the bad guys get a ‘get out of jail free’ card,” said Yost in a statement. We are equipping law enforcement with the resources to do their jobs.”

The new program will grant $50,000 to law enforcement agencies for the testing of large amounts of cannabis in accredited facilities equipped with the quantitative testing capabilities necessary for determining THC levels.

Through House Bill 166, the state legislature provided funding for the new equipment which has been placed in the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) labs in Richfield and London.

A third machine is slated to be installed in a laboratory in Bowling Green.

BCI is in the process of validating the machines, developing methodologies, and creating procedures for testing.

BCI expects to be ready to receive and test evidence by early 2020.