Rep. John Corbett - Represents House Seat 174. Makes up the Southwest portion of Camden County.

The House Committee on Agriculture held a committee hearing on the proposed hemp cultivation bill (House Bill 213) on Wednesday morning to consider proposed changes to the initiative to allow farmers in Georgia to grow hemp.

Chairman Tom McCall, in discussing the proposed regulations, told members of the committee said the dangers of hemp currently are that “you don’t know what you’re getting because it’s not a Georgia product.” He also said hemp cannot be grown or produced like “corn or soybeans because federal law defines the definition of hemp.”

The discussion was turned over to the bill’s sponsor, John Corbett, who told committee members that the proposed changes came at the request of the Agriculture subcommittee, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the universities in the state. Among the additions to the bill after it passed out of committee unanimously:

  • The definition of university activity now includes fields and greenhouses
  • The language permits hemp and “hemp varieties” for growth and experimentation
  • A regulation was added to require the seed processor to reimburse a farmer 50% of the costs if a grower has to destroy a crop because the THC level is too high.
    • Corbett said this was to “protect the farmers”
    • This provision sunsets after 3 years
  • Growers and processors will be subject to criminal background checks
  • The grower license is now $1,000, which did not exist in the initial bill. The processor permit remains at $100,000
  • Removes the 2-year renewal for permits and licenses and says it must be done annually
  • Allows universities to “breed and develop” varieties of hemp, instead of just basic hemp (meaning they can cross-pollinate so long as the THC level remains at the correct point)
  • If a random test concludes that the THC level is above 0.3%, the grower is responsible for destruction of the fields under the supervision of local law enforcement
    • Limits the destruction to the specific fields that test over the limit, not the entire crop of the grower

One state representative asked if a clarification could be added to the bill for the process of removing THC from a product during processing, which is used in CBD oil, but Corbett said they just needed to move forward because of where they are in the session. “That’s a question for another time,” he told the committee.

Hemp is not marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana come from the ‘cannabis’ family of plants, but the two are separate species. Marijuana features broad leaves, dense buds and has a short, bushy appearance. Hemp features skinny leaves that are concentrated towards the top of the plant and grows taller and skinnier than Marijuana, with few branches beneath its upper portion. Additionally, Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3% or less), Marijuana is abundant in THC with concentrations between 15% to 40%.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously and now heads to the Rules Committee. The bill remains among the most restrictive programs in the nation.

These changes will be available for review on the House website on Thursday, February 21 at 12:01 a.m. 

You can read more about the initial proposal here.

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Jessica Szilagyi
Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as agricultural news. She has a background in Political Science, with a focus in local government, and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.She's a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

5 COMMENTS

  1. HOUSE BILL 213: “UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES” How did it work out for limited liquor distributors license? A small few had a strangle hold on the industry for quite some time. Remember not so long ago? Georgians couldn’t visit a vineyard and ship wine back to Georgia. Georgia doesn’t need to burden the Hemp Industry with that same “LIMITED COMPETITION, LIMITED CHOICE” mentality. Capitalism works. Competition works.
    Limiting the industry to only 3 processing licenses sounds like a recipe for NO COMPETITION or CHOICE for the farmer when it comes to processing his harvest. The farmer takes the risk planting and bring to harvest a very expensive crop and is FORCED to align himself with a processor in advance of receiving a license to grow. Having only 3 processors just doesn’t pass the smell test. What happens when a farmer harvests that expensive crop and there isn’t enough capacity or one or more of the processors can’t deliver for various reasons? Who is damaged? Could a farmer be harmed? Unintended consequences.

  2. Questions for the Committee members:

    1 – Why three licenses? Why not two or 17?
    2 – What is the estimated cost of actively regulating the processing plants and the farmers growing hemp?
    3 – Why are the licenses $100,000 annually?
    4 – With so few licenses available, shouldn’t those who are passing such limiting restrictions – and their immediate families – be prohibited from obtaining licenses due to obvious concerns about a conflict of interest?
    5 – Is there a way to obtain the oil from hemp that would lower the seizures suffered by children? If so, will the hemp processing plants be willing to do so?

  3. Ken,
    Go see the newest version of the bill. They listened, now there will be 12 processing licenses with initial fee of $100,000 and renewals at $25,000.
    For your question 5, CBD from Hemp is now used for that purpose. GW Pharma out of Europe has an approved medication (the first approved I believe) called epidiolex. Google Charlotte’s web and read about that little girl and what CBD did for her and what it is doing for seizures. This stuff is going to be used for so many great uses.

  4. HEMP BILL 213 PASSES IN THE HOUSE. “””But with no language regarding propagation”””. Can we only plant seeds in the field or can we propagate and plant seedlings as well. If a farmer MUST buy his seeds from a processor who can he buy propagated seedlings from? That is missing, but very important to the sucess of Hemp Farming in Georgia.

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