Promoting the use of industrial hemp and legalizing medical marijuana topped the agenda today at a conference downtown called the 'Cannabis Academy'.
Tiffany Bowden is co-founder of Comfytree Cannabis Academy and says the legal marijuana business is booming.
Bowden says she's confident medical marijuana will eventually become legal in Ohio along with growing hemp and that will provide tremendous business opportunities, but she says it takes a certain amount of know-how and savvy to grow a successful business. "What we're doing here today is educating today's entrepreneur for the future of the industry."
Bowden says the medical marijuana industry has a bright future and needs knowledgeable people. "What we're passionate about is educating about those medicinal benefits and the ways that entrepreneurs can get in at the ground level in a way that they would never be able to do in other kinds of industries."
Medical marijuana is used to treat a variety of ailments from multiple-sclerosis to nausea and pain so the potential profits from legalizing it are enormous.
Meanwhile, Michigan Hemp founder Joe Brown, says industrial hemp, a close cousin of marijuana without the euphoria inducing THC can be made into thousands of products including the oil extract. "That oil in our cultivar plant has a compound in it called CBD or cannibidiol. Cannabidiol is the medicinal part of marijuana that's non psychotropic. It doesn't get you high."
Hemp can also be used to produce biofuel and other products from clothing, to food supplements, body lotions and even skateboards.
Lynne Wilson, known as the Happy Hemptress, says the public needs to be educated. "Hemp cereals, hemp granola bars the list goes on and on and on. Lotions, shampoos. By getting these products into the home they almost always have some kind of a cannabis leaf on them. It teaches people that it's something more than something to get high on."
Growing hemp and dispensing medical marijuana is still illegal in Ohio, but the owner of Hemptations, known simply as Beach, says there are efforts to change that. "We are right now collecting signatures on a petition to get the Ohio cannabis rights amendment on the ballot in 2014. What this amendment is....it's a two-part amendment. It's a medical amendment, but it's also an industrial hemp amendment."
The petition drive would allow Ohio voters to decide if medical marijuana and the cultivation of hemp should be legalized in Ohio.
Right now there are similar efforts in more than a dozen other states.