Georgia lawmakers approve licensing fees for growing, transporting hemp

A Georgia measure setting up licenses for hemp producers and processors awaits the governor’s signature.

State lawmakers approved legislation that would require a license for possessing hemp, whether it’s cultivating, transporting, or selling the plant. Licenses wouldn’t be required to possess finished hemp products.

The bill approved Monday now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature, the Savannah Morning News reported.

Anyone who has hemp without a license would face the same penalties as marijuana possession in Georgia, including jail time and fines. Background checks and fingerprinting would also be required of owners or executives of hemp growing or research operations.

Hemp processors would need to pay a $25,000 permit fee to the state Department of Agriculture on the first year and $50,000 every subsequent year.

One of the bill’s aims is to clear up confusion during traffic stops when an officer needs to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, which can look and smell identical. With paperwork, officers can avoid having to test a plant for THC.