Within Georgia’s cannabis community, HB 847, which includes many proposed changes to Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act, has caused almost as much hysteria as the Coronavirus. The bill originally proposed was a provision for misdemeanor punishment for negligently violating O.C.G.A. §2-23-4, and felony punishment for intentionally violating it. Those controversial provisions were withdrawn from the bill which recently sailed through the Georgia House and is presently before the Senate, but many other provisions, which may have a profound effect on Georgia’s nascent hemp industry, have changed.Continue reading “$25 G’s To Roll A J? My Thoughts On HB 847”
Many believe that the nationwide decriminalization of marijuana will be a potential unintended consequence of the federal legalization of hemp vis-à-vis the 2018 Farm Bill.
Legalization and decriminalization are distinct terms. Legalization, in this context, means that the U.S. Government, along with a large majority of states, has passed laws permitting the possession and trade in industrial hemp and its products. Decriminalization, on the other hand, does not mean that possession or trade in a product is legal. It means, for one reason or another, that the laws making certain behavior, like possessing or trading in marijuana, punishable by fine or deprivation of liberty, e.g. imprisonment, cannot or will not be enforced.
A flashpoint for the decriminalization debate has been the conundrum of what to do about smokeable hemp, which is exactly what it sounds like: raw, unprocessed cannabis with a THC-Δ9 level of .3 or less and is ingested by smoking. With little or no THC-Δ9, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, why smoke hemp at all? The short answer is that users smoke hemp to get the benefits of marijuana, which users have claimed to alleviate everything from anxiety to the side effects of cancer treatment, without its psychoactive effects. Many users prefer smoking hemp to treating themselves with CBD creams and oils because hemp delivers full spectrum, i.e. all cannabinoids and not just CBD which, by the way, smokeable delivers at higher levels than, for instance, oil. Smoking hemp also delivers cannabinoids to the bloodstream more quickly than a topical treatment, thus delivering its benefit to the user more quickly. Farmers favor growing smokeable hemp because it costs almost nothing to process and is therefore highly profitable.
With so many benefits, you may think states are encouraging the production and sale of smokeable, but that has not been the case in a lot of jurisdictions. Notably, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, N.C. and S.C. have either banned it or are trying to ban it. N.C. has had a contentious fight over smokeable in its legislature and the battle, nearly a year old now, is not over yet. The USDA’s interim final rules do not address smokeable at all, primarily because they only provide baseline regulations for issues related to growing as opposed to processing or selling hemp.Continue reading “Still Smokin’: What In the World Is Georgia Going To Do About Smokeable Hemp?”
The Need for Uniform Testing in the Hemp Industry
When I was young my father had a t-shirt which had 4 identical cartoon pictures with the captions, “Banker, Broker, Lawyer, Crook.” I was reminded of that shirt while considering what would happen to a hemp processor in Georgia, where I work primarily, who imports hemp which was certified by an out-of-state lab as having a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-Δ9) concentration within acceptable standards, only to have a Georgia lab conclude the opposite.
In Georgia, testing for THC-Δ9 is a crucial aspect of the hemp trade, as it potentially spells the difference between a hemp farmer and a marijuana trafficker. Per O.C.G.A. §2-23-8, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (DOA) has the right, itself or through contracted labs, to test all licensees’ (growers) and permittees’ (processors) hemp randomly. If the testing reveals a THC-Δ9 concentration of more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, the entire crop with the same GPS position (for licensees) or “all related hemp products” (for permittees) will be destroyed at the owner’s expense.Continue reading “The Thin Green Line: The Need for Uniform Testing in the Hemp Industry”