While many states saw their first round of industr
ial hemp farming in decades last year, some started much earlier and some are lagging a bit behind.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved Georgia’s state proposal for hemp permitting, planting and harvesting. Now, if all goes well, Georgia farmers will reap their first yields this fall.
Across the American South, states share a historical connection that has given them common cause when it comes to legalizing industrial hemp.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was an architect of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the crop, which for generations was grown for its uses in rope and textile manufacture, as well as shipbuilding.
One of the key hopes of that legislation was that a growing market for CBD oil and related products would drive demand for hemp even as fewer people buy tobacco from farms that have long relied on it.
People love CBD because it brings them many of the benefits of marijuana without the intoxicating high.
In South Dakota, the governor signed a hemp legalization bill into law last week, and the state budget is pending a special session in the summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic so that state may see serious delays in actual planting and cultivation. 
South Dakota was one of the last states in the union that had not made the crop legal after federal changes removed it from the register of controlled substances in 2018. 
It is only after state legalization that legislatures or regulatory workers can develop agricultural plans and share them with the USDA for approval, and in the case of Georgia this is the process that required some ironing. 
“Georgia has the ability to be a significant player in the country, particularly given our climate,” Kevin Quirk of Harvest Connect in Roswell told the Boston Globe. “People say they're not sure how it's going to grow in the red clay. Guess what, it's growing really well in [University of
Georgia] tests.” 
Despite this recent official recognition by the USDA, research university testing of hemp for medicinal and other purposes has been going all across the country for years before even the 2018 federal legalization.