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Hemp Alert: Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act Substantiates Industry – At a Cost

Georgia Hemp Market: Legitimized, but Restricted

Georgia has passed Senate Bill 494, otherwise known as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. Business owners in the state will benefit from added clarity regarding the sale of hemp products, but as we dig in, we will find that everything is not all peachy.

Queue the sad violin music and say adios to our dear friend, THCA. You flew too close to the sun—or, at least, the governor’s office. The state of Georgia now defines THC as: tetrahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or a combination of tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. For business owners, this means some of your most popular products are now illegal to sell. We’ve seen THCA cause headaches (and incarcerations) for business owners in the neighboring state of South Carolina. Could Georgia be setting a precedent that works its way through the South?

Savvy business owners should see the writing on the wall: the THCA wave will come to an end sooner than later. It is important to remain updated on developments in your state to ensure compliance and that your investment choices are good for the long-term health of your business.

Now for some good news. Georgia has maintained the federally defined level of THC for hemp, which means all your Farm Act Compliant Delta-9 products are still fair game, but they are now subject to further restrictions. Chiefly, the sale of hemp-derived products, including CBD, to anyone under the age of 21 is now illegal. Treating low THC hemp products similarly to alcohol makes sense, but requiring identification to purchase some CBD dog treats to help my dachshund survive the next thunderstorm seems a little ridiculous.

Retail, wholesale, and manufacturing operators within the state are now required to obtain a license and pay fees to the Department of Agriculture. The fee structure is a sliding scale for all business types depending on the scale of their operations within the state. Retail licenses could cost anywhere from $250 to $4000 “based on the amount of consumable hemp products to be sold by the licensee” determined by the Commissioner—a little ambiguous, if you asked me. Needless to say, business owners should expect some form of annual licensing fees in order to maintain compliance moving forward. For more information regarding obtaining a license, go to the Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Program page.

Lastly, while a new House Bill would remove the hemp felon ban at a federal level, Georgia has decided to double down on the wrong side of history. Applicants seeking hemp licenses will be denied if they’ve been “involved in sale of or trafficking in a controlled substance or a felony related to a state or federally controlled substance within ten years.” What if that very substance was the Cannabis sativa plant they are now attempting to legally engage with? Precluding individuals from being a part of the hemp industry on these grounds reeks of hypocrisy. Hopefully, we will see positive movement federally which can set the stage for a more forgiving and inclusive hemp industry.

Some of this news may seem like doom and gloom for business owners, but the fact is the hemp industry is here to stay in Georgia. Regulating these products and providing a path for licensing further substantiates the hemp industry. Thanks for staying in the know with Know Naturals!

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