A bill filed in the Georgia House of Representatives seeks to outline parameters for hemp cultivation in the state of Georgia.
The bipartisan House Bill 213 was filed last week by Representatives John Corbett, Carl Wayne Gilliard, Tom McCall, Robert Dickey, and Jimmy Pruett. McCall is Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture & Consumer Affairs.
The bill, stamped the ‘Georgia Hemp Farming Act,’ seeks to regulate the way hemp is grown in Georgia following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in Congress, which, according to Brookings, permits “cultivation broadly, not simply pilot programs for studying market interest in hemp-derived products. It explicitly allows the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or other purposes. It also puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products, so long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law.” The Farm Bill capped the THC level for hemp at 0.3 percent THC.
Hemp v. Marijuana
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%.
What does the proposed Georgia bill do?
The language of the bill says the goals of the Hemp Farming Act are to 1) Promote on a preliminary basis, exploration of the cultivation and processing of hemp. 2) explore expansion of the state’s hemp industry, 3) encourage research, 4) move the state to the forefront of the hemp industry, 5) balance health, safety, and welfare, and 6) enable the sale of hemp.
In doing that, the bill would:
- Define ‘licensees,’ who are permitted to grow hemp, and ‘permittees,’ who are the processors of hemp
- ‘Make it unlawful for anyone to cultivate, handle, or process hemp without a state-issued license
- Make it unlawful for someone to process hemp from a grower without a license
- Make it unlawful for a licensee to have hemp processed by someone without a license
- Make it unlawful for a processor to process hemp from outside of Georgia
- Permit colleges and universities to study hemp varieties, seed development, consumer uses, and marketing
- Give the Department of Agriculture the authority to randomly test hemp samples for THC levels
In order to obtain a hemp grower’s license, a person would be required to:
- Provide legal coordinates for the location of the fields where hemp would be grown
- Provide documentation of whom the grower would work with for processing
- Provide consent to the GBI and law enforcement for inspection of property
- Agree to holding, or being the interested party, in only one license
Similar parameters are put in place for a processor (or permittee), but would also require a $100,000 annual fee to be considered for one of three state licenses from hemp processing in the state. Processors also have to have contracts with at least 10 growers to be eligible for a state license.
The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee, though it is likely it will go to the committee on Agriculture & Consumer Affairs. More background on the Farm Bill’s allowance for hemp is available here.
Contact the sponsors of the bill by email:
You can read the bill below. (If you’re having difficulty loading the PDF, click here)HB 213_2019