Say What? Georgia’s Rejected Hemp Plan And What It Means For Growers In 2020

by Mark Yurachek

Recently, the AJC published this article indicating that Georgia’s Industrial Hemp Plan needed to be revised before it would be approved by the USDA, thus opening the door for Georgia to issue licenses to grow hemp. So what does that mean for hemp production in Georgia?

According to Gary Black, Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture, what it means is that Georgia farmers will have to wait to grow hemp until the state’s plan is approved. The plan was sent back because it failed to certify that it had the resources and personnel necessary to implement its plan and Georgia did not do that. Why? Because nobody budgeted money for doing so (it says so right in the plan). No problem, right? Commissioner Black would just go back and request $1.6 million in state funds to implement the program over the next two years. Only, that’s the problem. Specifically, tax revenue is not growing fast enough and Georgia is currently in a budget crunch, with all government departments, including the GDA, being ordered to slash their budgets in a state which has never been shy about shooting itself in the foot if it means not creating additional taxes.

So, it seems possible, maybe likely, that Georgia will not be able to make the necessary changes to its Industrial Hemp Plan to gain approval from the USDA in time for the 2020 growing season, since “the necessary edits cannot be fulfilled within the current statutes of the Georgia Hemp Farming Act and the 2020 budget.” What caught my eye is that Commissioner Black stated that that means that there will be no legal hemp growing in Georgia in 2020.

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