The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is responsible for the oversight of hemp cultivation and production in the state. The GDA is currently in the process of drafting regulations surrounding the licensure and rules of the hemp farming program.
Georgians can now legally purchase CBD products containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The 2018 Farm Bill shifted the oversight of hemp and hemp-derived products from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not presently allow CBD-infused food, drinks, or dietary supplements to be sold, and hasn’t yet provided regulations for hemp-derived CBD products.
Still, the agency warns that regulations in flux still require companies to make legitimate claims on their labels. Buyers should nonetheless approach CBD products with caution. A CBD product should clearly state what kind of CBD is used.
CBD products are legal in Georgia, with the exception of CBD in foods, beverages, animal feed, or dietary supplements. The Georgia Hemp Farming Act, HB 213, which passed in May 2019, formally legalized the commerce of CBD products that conform with federal law requirements and contain 0.3% THC or less.
Until May 2019, only CBD products with zero percent THC were legal in Georgia. The passing of HB 213, also known as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, permitted the in-state production, processing, and sale of hemp and hemp products, and redefined CBD to match the federal definition.
Applicants must undergo a criminal background check performed by local law enforcement. Those with convictions related to controlled substances are not eligible to apply for licenses. Applicants must be qualified with agricultural experience. Annual licensing fees cost $50 per acre, with a maximum fee of $5,000.00.
Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, or possession of any amount of marijuana less than 10 lbs with the intent to distribute, is considered a felony. This crime includes a punishment of up to 10 years in prison or probation, up to a $100,000 fine, and could include court-mandated community service, drug evaluations, and drug screens.
No, CBD and marijuana are NOT the same thing. Although CBD is a component of marijuana, it can also be extracted from hemp—recently defined by the federal government as a plant from the cannabis species that contains 0.3% THC or less.
CBD is a naturally occurring chemical sold and purchased across the State of Georgia in products including soaps, cigarettes, candies, and more. CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is a chemical found in marijuana & hemp plants that does NOT produce the “high” associated with THC (the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants). According to the National Cancer Institute—the federal government’s primary agency to address cancer research and treatment—CBD may relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and decrease anxiety.
Can I break the law by possessing CBD or Marijuana?
However, the federal government continues to categorize marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance (drugs considered to have no medical benefit). Despite evidence that this categorization is rooted in political motives & lacking scientific support, our government has ignored scientific data available to change this classification.
Yes, but it’s a bit more complicated. The federal government distinguishes hemp from marijuana, and the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 made all hemp agriculture legal in the United States. The State of Georgia followed the federal trend and passed its own Hemp Farming Act in 2019 that regulates the cultivation, processing, and distribution of hemp.
Although still behind the national trend, Georgia has legalized limited medical marijuana by allowing residents to apply for a Low THC Oil Registry Card from the Georgia Department of Health. With this card, you can carry up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil containing no more than 0.5% THC per weight. The Low THC Oil Registry Card will be distributed to Georgia residents who obtain a doctor’s prescription to treat conditions including cancer, ALS, Seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Mitochondrial Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Sickle Cell Disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, Epidermolysis Bullosa, AIDS, or Peripheral Neuropathy.
Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor. This crime includes a punishment of up to 12 months in jail or probation, up to a $1,000 fine, and could include court-mandated community service, drug evaluations, and drug screens.
Industrial hemp CBD oils are legal to purchase and possess in Georgia, and across the United States.
Finally in 2015, State Governor Nathan Deal passed a law that would get the ball rolling on medical marijuana in Georgia.
How to Buy CBD Oil in Georgia
These changes made it possible for farmers to legally grow industrial hemp as an agricultural crop to be used for paper, clothing, fuel, food, and research.
For more than 30 years, Georgia had a medical marijuana program written into law but had no source of legal marijuana.
It may be difficult to double-check the source of your products in-store, but local shops should have knowledgeable staff who can point you in the right direction.