Georgia legalizes hemp farming, cites need for ‘new commercial markets’

Citing a need to “open up new commercial markets for farmers,” Georgia has legalized hemp farming in a new law that allows cultivation for all purposes, including CBD-infused foods.

The law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday sets up licenses for farming and processing hemp and allows “all products with the federally defined THC level for hemp,” except for THC-infused foods.

At least 42 states already allow hemp cultivation, though not all those states have functioning hemp programs.

Georgia’s law calls for the Peach State to submit a hemp-regulation plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) within 60 days.

The law does not say whether hemp production will be allowed to start in 2019, before the USDA plans to begin approving state hemp plans.

Other things to know about Georgia’s new hemp law:

  • Only existing farmers will be allowed to get hemp licenses. Georgia defines farmers as anyone who produced $10,000 worth of “agricultural products” in the previous year.
  • Georgia’s law includes a lifetime ban on felons, plus anyone with a misdemeanor “involving sale of or trafficking in a controlled substance.”
  • Farmers who grow hemp will be charged an annual license fee of $50 an acre up to a maximum of $5,000 per year.
  • Processors will be charged $25,000 for permits, which slides to $10,000 after the first year.
  • Georgia will allow hemp farmers with plants up to 0.33% THC to retest the plants to see if they meet federal limits.
  • The law removes hemp from Georgia’s list of controlled substances.