What’s Really Going On With The Ohio Cannabis Laws?

Good news everyone! Ohio Senate Bill 57 was signed into law on July 30th. This is exciting news because it means that hemp and its derivative products, like CBD, are now legal in Ohio!  However, since the new law went into effect many questions have been raised about its unintended consequences. Because of how hemp is now defined in the ORC, wild speculation has been going on about the legal status of marijuana and cannabis as a whole in Ohio.

Hemp, as defined in newly created Chapter 928 of the Ohio Revised Code, is “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than [0.3%] on a dry weight basis.” [1]  Seems pretty straight-forward right? Well it would be except the equipment used to test the THC content of a cannabis plant is not in use in Ohio yet. So what does that mean? Well legal scholars and law enforcement officers have been trying to figure that out since the bill was signed.

Some people have speculated that marijuana could have been accidentally legalized along with hemp because of the state’s inability to test cannabis for THC content, but I believe that to be a reckless position. I think cannabis users should continue to use caution when it comes to law enforcement and marijuana. Notwithstanding, I do think it is worth it to explore what officials and law experts actually have said and what direction has been given to law enforcement officers.

After the law went into effect, State Attorney General Dave Yost sent a letter to county prosecutors clarifying the state’s position on the legality of cannabis in the state and how to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The letter stated that, “‘BCI is in early… stages of validating… methods to meet this new legal requirement,’ something they say ‘may take several months.’  In the meantime, BCI is recommending prosecutors: ‘Suspend identification of marijuana testing,” and “Do not indict any cannabis-related items.’”

That sure sounds to me like the direction from THE TOP LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL in the state is to suspend marijuana testing and to not indict any new cases related to cannabis.

It must be noted that this is just the state’s position and county prosecutors can and still handle cases however they see fit.

There have been certain counties like Vermillion that expressed that it would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases. With that being said, one of our Followers on Facebook, Brent Johnson, makes a great point when he comments,  “I can get on one road that crosses back and forth from [County A] to [County B]  and have up to 200 grams in [County A], but not in [County B].” In that, just because one county stopped prosecuting that doesn’t mean surrounding counties have the same attitude.

So with that being said, as always, it’s best to just leave it at home.

Regardless of the legislative “loophole” presenting itself to the Buckeye State, it’s always a good idea to know your rights. So we advise you to take a second to familiarize yourself with your rights with the  Freedom Card from the Norml Foundation.

“THE NORML FOUNDATION FREEDOM CARD

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with your right to remain silent, to consult with an attorney, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. However, it is up to you to assert these rights. This NORML Foundation Freedom Card will help you do so effectively.

If you are confronted by a police officer, remain calm. Be courteous and provide your identification. Politely refuse to answer any further questions. Ask to talk to an attorney. Do not consent to any search of your person, your property, your residence or your vehicle. Tell the officer you would like to give him or her this card, which is a statement of the constitutional rights you wish to invoke. Do not reach for this card until you have obtained the officer’s permission to do so.

If the officer fails to honor your rights, remain calm and polite, ask for the officer’s identifying information and ask him or her to note your objection in the report. Do not attempt to physically resist an unlawful arrest, search or seizure. If necessary, you may point out the violations to a judge at a later time.

I hereby invoke and refuse to waive all of the following rights and privileges afforded to me by the U.S. Constitution: I invoke and refuse to waive my Fifth Amendment right to • remain silent. Do not ask me any questions. I invoke and refuse to waive my Sixth Amendment right to an • attorney of my choice. Do not ask me any questions without my attorney present. I invoke and refuse to waive all privileges and rights pursuant • to the case Miranda v. Arizona. Do not ask me any questions or make any comment to me about this decision.

 I invoke and refuse to waive my Fourth Amendment right to be • free from unreasonable searches and seizures. I do not consent to any search or seizure of myself, my home, or of any property in my possession. Do not ask me about my ownership interest in any property. I do not consent to this contact with you. If I am not presently under arrest or under investigatory detention, please allow me to leave. Any statement I make, or alleged consent I give, in response • to your questions, is hereby made under protest and under duress and in submission to your claim of lawful authority to force me to provide you with information.”

One last nugget of info for you that we learned while doing research for this.  We talked to one police officer in Ohio and asked what direction they had been given about the new law and how they are handling it. They told us that the only instructions and change of policy they received was that smell alone was no longer sufficient for probable cause as hemp carries the distinct cannabis smell that marijuana does. With this information I think it is prudent, if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, never to identify your cannabis and to remember to shut the f*#@* up and remain silent.

So to sum it all up, know the laws, know your rights, and keep your stuff at home.

Until Next Time, Stay Informed, and Be Kind.

SassyLunchBox420 and Sunny Sansone

 

Sources:

https://www.10tv.com/article/did-ohio-lawmakers-accidentally-legalize-marijuana-top-law-enforcers-say-yes-2019-aug

https://www.10tv.com/article/columbus-drops-pending-misdemeanor-pot-charges-hemp-legalization-poses-issue-ohio

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2019/08/09/ohios-hemp-law-causing-problems-prosecuting-marijuana-crimes/1954669001/

https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/is-marijuana-accidentally-legal-in-ohio-not-quite

https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/August-2019/Ohio-Attorney-General-Announces-Grant-Funding-for

https://local12.com/news/local/with-ohios-new-hemp-law-ag-tells-prosecutors-not-to-indict-cannabis-cases-at-this-time