Now that medical marijuana in “low THC oil” form is legal in Georgia, one lawmaker wants to turn the state’s focus to industrial hemp. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that has been used for production of a host of basic products, such as paper, textiles, and fuel, until it was outlawed in the early 1900’s. Hemp is so low in THC that it doesn’t produce much of a high. For comparison, Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis-based pediatric seizure medicine, is so low in THC that it is considered hemp.
Lawmakers are hoping the bipartisan supported Georgia House Bill HB 704 to allow the industrial hemp cultivation will pave the way to once again establishing hemp as a “major crop” in Georgia. While twenty-two states have already enacted industrial hemp laws, the hemp industry itself has been decimated long-ago by the federal laws on cannabis. The demand side of industrial hemp will take some time to develop as companies begin to research, integrate and make use of this versatile commodity.
State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, the sole Georgia democrat to sign the proposed industrial hemp bill sees medical marijuana, industrial hemp, and full legalization of marijuana in Ga. as somewhat interconnected. Rep. Beverly stated:
“Expanding medical marijuana, at least the whole marijuana industry, is probably not a bad thing for Georgia. If we can get into the industrial aspect of it, maybe it takes us a step closer to just legalizing it”
Another Georgia lawmaker, Senator Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, wants to legalize recreational marijuana in the state and plans to introduce a bill that would tax and regulate it in a similar to other states that have done the same.
Who would have thought that Georgia would be one of the epicenter of the marijuana legalization debate in the south. Exciting times if you are a cannabis legalization advocate in Georgia.
The full text of the Georgia’s House Bill 704 (HB 704) to allow industrial hemp cultivation is included below:
15 LC 39 1069
H. B. 704
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House Bill 704
By: Representatives Pezold of the 133rd, McCall of the 33rd, Frye of the 118th, Caldwell of
the 20th, and Beverly of the 143rd
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
1 To amend Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to agriculture, so as to
2 provide for industrial hemp cultivation; to provide for definitions; to provide for procedures,
3 conditions, and limitations; to amend Chapter 12 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia
4 Annotated, relating to offenses against public health and morals, so as to provide for the
5 possession of industrial hemp under certain circumstances; to provide for definitions; to
6 provide for penalties; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other
8 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
9 SECTION 1.
10 Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to agriculture, is amended by
11 adding a new chapter to read as follows:
12 “CHAPTER 23
14 As used in this chapter, the term:
15 (1) ‘Agricultural pilot program’ means a program established for the purpose of study of
16 the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp in compliance with the standards
17 established by this chapter.
18 (2) ‘Department’ means the Department of Agriculture.
19 (3) ‘Industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant,
20 whether growing or not, with a delta-0 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more
21 than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
22 (4) ‘Institution of higher education’ means an entity defined in Section 101 of the Higher
23 Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. Section 1001.
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H. B. 704
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24 (5) ‘Person’ means any individual, partnership, association, fiduciary, corporation, or
25 organized group of persons, whether or not incorporated. Such term shall not include an
26 institution of higher education.
28 Any person who cultivates an industrial hemp crop of any size shall obtain a license from
29 the department. In order to obtain an industrial hemp license, the grower shall agree that
30 the department has the right to inspect the hemp crop for compliance. The department shall
31 oversee and annually license any person who wishes to produce industrial hemp. The
32 department shall charge a fee for the issuance of such in an amount sufficient to cover the
33 administrative costs of the department in relation to the agricultural pilot program. Failure
34 to obtain a license prior to growing industrial hemp shall be considered a violation of
35 subsection (b) of Code Section 16-12-191 and a felony.
37 Pursuant to Section 7606 of H.R. 2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014, the department may
38 approve an institution of higher education to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for purposes
39 of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program approved by the department.
41 (a) Sites used to grow or cultivate industrial hemp in this state shall be certified by and
42 registered with the department.
43 (b) The department shall promulgate such rules and regulations to carry out the provisions
44 of this chapter within 120 days of the effective date of this chapter.
45 (c) The department may apply for and receive any federal funds or grants to conduct such
46 pilot program pursuant to the authorizing federal law and regulations.”
47 SECTION 2.
48 Chapter 12 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to offenses against
49 public health and morals, is amended by adding a new article to read as follows:
50 “ARTICLE 8
52 As used in this article, the term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and
53 any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-0 tetrahydrocannabinol
54 concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
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H. B. 704
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56 (a)(1) Notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 13 of this title, it shall be lawful for any
57 person to possess or have under his or her control industrial hemp if:
58 (A) Such person has obtained a license with the Department of Agriculture as set forth
59 in Code Section 2-23-2; or
60 (B) Such substance is part of a study by an institution of higher education as provided
61 for in Code Section 2-23-3.
62 (2) Notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 13 of this title, any person who possesses
63 or has under his or her control industrial hemp without complying with subparagraph (A)
64 or (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
65 (b) Notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 13 of this title, any person who cultivates,
66 distributes, dispenses, sells, or possesses with the intent to distribute industrial hemp
67 without a license issued by the Department of Agriculture under Code Section 2-23-2 shall
68 be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for
69 not less than one nor more than ten years, a fine not to exceed $50,000.00, or both.”
70 SECTION 3.
71 All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.
What do you think? Is Georgia going to be one of the industrial hemp and recreational marijuana powerhouses? Sound off below!