Georgia lawmakers mull harsh new bill to let cops arrest those found with hemp

Georgia lawmakers mull harsh new bill to let cops arrest those found with hemp

The federal government still considers marijuana illegal, but in states where prohibition has been lifted, state police won’t make arrests for it. Now, some Georgia legislators want to implement the opposite for hemp.

Industrial hemp was made legal at the tail end of 2018 when President Donald Trump signed that year’s Farm Bill. In the time since states have taken their own approaches to the regulation, transportation and testing of the substance and its byproducts like CBD, but the proposal in Georgia is one of the harshest plans yet.

The bill emerged from a State House committee this week and would require those who possess hemp to carry a license or face criminal charges. [1]

According to the Valdosta Daily Times, the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee approved the bill Tuesday. It would threaten two year jail sentences or a $1,000 fine for anyone carrying less than an ounce of leafy hemp without a license. [1]

“If you treat any leafy substance as hemp, you’re decriminalizing marijuana in this state,” Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council Executive Director Pete Skandalakis told the Daily Times. “I don’t think that’s what the Legislature wants.” [1]

Still, others claimed this move would place an unjustified ban on industrial hemp products with under 0.3% THC content, which is legal under the language of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Hemp is used for a number of industrial applications including textiles, rope, and even experimental construction materials and plastics.

New developments in technology have shown promise for faster and more mobile testing, even though current lab environments are perfectly able to field tests of crops and/or CBD products.

“We're treating it as if it's a criminal product,” Rep. Scott Turner, R-Holly Springs, told MSN. “We have the ability to do a test. We're choosing not to. Why aren't we just taking the steps necessary to establish the criminal behavior on a product that's actually illegal?” [2]

Still, Committee Chairman Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, said it was increasingly important for the legislation to be passed since the agricultural season would soon start back up and hemp farmers and processors need to be looped in on the newly proposed permit process. [2]