Ohio hemp businesses hire powerful Statehouse lobbyist

A law legalizing hemp changed the definition of marijuana, causing district attorneys across the state to drop low-level possession cases and stop accepting new ones. (Cropped Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) A powerful Statehouse lobbyist is leading a new coalition representing Ohio's burgeoning hemp industry.

Grant Street Consultants' Neil Clark was appointed Wednesday. That same day, state lawmakers passeda bill allowing Ohio farmers and university researchers to grow industrial hemp and legalizing sales of hemp-derived cannabidiol (kan-uh-bih-DY'-ahl) oil, or CBD.

The measure still needs Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's signature.

Ohio would become the 47th state to regulate hemp. The Ohio Farm Bureau has predicted it would become the state's third largest crop behind corn and soybeans.

The industry coalition includes three entrepreneurs from Green Light Acquisitions, which is now in the hemp business.

The group invested $30 million in a failed 2015 effort to legalize marijuana that laid the groundwork for medical marijuana and hemp legalization in Ohio.