House Bill 213 Legalizes Hemp in Georgia

Read about how House Bill 213 legalized hemp in Georgia

In the United States during the past year, 38 states have considered legislation on the expansion and legalization of the hemp industry. States are looking at everything from clearly defining laws and regulations to establishing research programs related to hemp. Only nine states don’t have any laws in consideration to allow for the cultivation of hemp.

Enacted on May 10, House Bill 213 legalizes the product in the State of Georgia. The Georgia Hemp Farming Act removes hemp as part of the description of marijuana and from under the category of illegal drugs as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. The act allows for the legal cultivation, production, and sale of hemp and related products. In accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill passed in December, HB 213 follows the same regulations set out in the previous legislation.

Georgia passed HB 213 with the intent to increase the economic vitality of the hemp industry in the state. The bill states that the new legislation aims to expand the hemp industry for new commercial markets and encourage additional research into the product while balancing potential public safety concerns that come with unlawful uses of hemp.

Do I need a license to grow hemp?

All those interested in selling or cultivating hemp and hemp related products will need to follow the rules and regulations set for the industry. Depending on the licensee’s intent, hemp grower’s license or a hemp processor’s permit issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture is required to legally process or grow hemp in Georgia.

Hemp Grower’s License

To apply for a license as a hemp grower, the individual must be considered a qualified agriculture producer. Applicants will have to pay a $50 annual license fee per acre of cultivated hemp, not to exceed $5,000. Additionally, all applicants will have to submit the following items to complete the application process:

  • Completed application
  • Criminal background check
  • Property coordinates
  • Consent for the Georgia Department of Agriculture or other authorized law enforcement to enter your premises for purposes of inspection and compliance

Hemp Processor’s Permit

Those applying for a hemp processor permit must also be considered a qualified agriculture producer. Permits are issued annually, with an initial permit fee of $25,000 and an annual renewal fee of $10,000. A surety bond in the amount of $100,000 is also required to receive a Hemp Processor’s Permit.

A surety bond is a binding agreement between a principal, the company seeking to receive a license, a surety, the certified third party providing the bond, and an obligee, the entity requiring the bond. The $100,000 surety bond is required to ensure any rules or regulations that are violated will be financially covered by the surety providing the bond.

The following materials must be included with a permit application before the Department will consider the application complete:

  • Surety bond in the amount of $100,000
  • Criminal background check
  • Property coordinates
  • Consent for the Georgia Department of Agriculture or other authorized law enforcement to enter your premises for purposes of inspection and compliance

What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana are often confused as the same product. HB 213 defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant of the genus Cannabis” including the seeds, resins extracted from the plant and any compound resulting from the plant. Hemp on the other hand is defined as “the Cannabis Sativa L plant and any part of such plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with the federally defined THC level [0.3% on a dry weight basis] for hemp or a lower level.” The products come from different cultivations of the same plant, with marijuana intended to be used for the medical or psychological effects and hemp usually used for clothing and other related materials.  

Additionally, hemp products permitted to be sold in Georgia are defined as “products with the federally defined THC level for hemp derived from, or made by, processing hemp plants or plant parts that are prepared in a form available for legal commercial sale, but not including food products infused with THC unless approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”

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About the Author

Michelle Cummings
Michelle is a senior at the University of Missouri - Columbia studying journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication. She is a member of the marketing department and outreach team for SuretyBonds.com, a leading provider of online bonding for clients nationwide.