- The Georgia Hemp Farming Act or House Bill 213 legalizes the processing, production, and sale of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products in Georgia(1).
- House Bill 213 follows the regulations set in the United States Farm Bill of 2018, allowing hemp cultivation, production, and manufacturing. The Farm Bill defined industrial hemp as a hemp variety with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(2).
- Georgians may legally possess cannabis-derived CBD oil containing not more than 5% THC(3). However, they must have been diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions and have a registration card.
- The Georgia Department of Agriculture oversees the cultivation and production of hemp in the state and drafts licensure regulations(4).
- Licensees must provide samples of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products for testing. Hemp samples must contain not more than 0.3% THC(5).
Is CBD Oil Legal in Georgia?
In May 2019, House Bill 213, also known as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, was passed. This law allowed the in-state processing, production, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products(6).
However, CBD’s addition in foods, beverages, animal feed, or dietary supplements is still considered illegal(7).
The Georgia Hemp Farming Act removed hemp with less than 0.3% THC from the category of Schedule I drugs, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act.
Per the 2018 Farm Bill, the law follows the same regulations laid out in the previous legislation.
House Bill 213 was passed to increase the economic vitality of the hemp industry in Georgia.
According to the bill, the new legislation aims to expand the hemp industry and explore the potential for opening new commercial markets.
The Georgia Hemp Farming Act encourages research into growing hemp and creating hemp products while balancing public safety concerns with hemp’s unlawful use.
Georgia CBD Laws
House Bill 1 (Haleigh’s Hope Act)
In April 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 1, also known as Haleigh’s Hope Act. This law allowed patients with qualifying medical conditions to use cannabis-derived CBD oil with no more than 5% THC(8).
Haleigh’s Hope Act authorized educational institutions to research CBD oil and see how it may work to treat children’s seizure disorders.
The law has created the foundation for the state’s medical marijuana program. House Bill 1 also ensured that qualified patients are safe from prosecution for low THC oil possession.
Haleigh’s Hope Act did not mention the term “CBD oil.” Instead, the legislation referred to the legal possession and use of low-THC cannabis oil (called “low THC oil”).
“Low THC oil” is defined as any oil containing no more than 5% THC and an amount of CBD equal to or greater than the THC content.
An individual must have a valid patient identification card to use and possess low-THC oil in Georgia legally. The card shows that the individual is registered in the state’s “Low THC Oil Registry.”
There are three categories of individuals eligible to get a low THC oil registry card(9):
- an adult who has one or more of the diseases specified in the law
- legal guardians of an adult who has one or more of the conditions specified in the law
- parents or legal guardians of a minor child who has one or more of the diseases specified in the law
One must consult with a physician and be diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions(10):
- Seizure or epilepsy
- Multiple sclerosis (severe or end-stage)
- Crohn’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Mitochondrial disease
- Parkinson’s disease (severe or end-stage)
- Tourette’s syndrome (severe)
- Alzheimer’s disease (severe or end-stage)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- AIDS (severe or end-stage)
- Intractable pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle cell disease
- Epidermolysis bullosa (a rare skin condition)
- Peripheral neuropathy (symptoms are severe or end-stage)
- The patient is in hospice (either as inpatient or outpatient)
Medical cannabis patients may pick up their low THC oil registry card from one of the 20 public health offices across the state.
House Bill 324 (Georgia’s Hope Act)
Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 324, also known as Georgia‘s Hope Act, on April 17, 2019(11).
This bill set up a system of regulations for the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) to regulate and license the production and sale of low-THC oil to patients.
House Bill 325 allows for up to two universities and six private companies to grow and manufacture low-THC cannabis oil.
However, the law did not address how low-THC oil is made, nor did it develop regulations on the transport and purchase of such products.
The GDPH stated that House Bill 325 only creates a procedure that ensures qualified patients are protected from prosecution for having it in their possession.
CBD Possession Limits in Georgia
The state of Georgia has no possession limits on CBD products derived from hemp. These products’ only requirement is to contain 0.3% THC or less in dry weight(12).
Under Georgia’s medical marijuana law, legal possession of cannabis oil with up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC is authorized for qualified patients(13).
The low-THC oil must be stored in a pharmaceutical container with the CBD and THC percentages indicated on the manufacturer label.
Any unauthorized individual who possesses any form of marijuana is a violation of federal and state law.
The penalties for possession of an illegal form of cannabis or CBD product depend on the following: amount in possession or whether there is an intent to distribute.
Those who possess less than an ounce of marijuana may be charged with a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in prison(14).
Possession of more than one ounce is considered a felony, punishable by $5,000 in fine and up to ten years in prison(15).
Possession of marijuana with an intent of distribution is punishable by the same penalty for the sale of illicit cannabis or CBD(16).
CBD Licensing Requirements
The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is responsible for overseeing the cultivation and production of hemp in the state. Currently, the GDA is drafting rules of the hemp farming program and licensing regulations(17).
The GDA does not issue any licenses until the regulations have been released. Entities with a GDA license are given legal permission to grow and process hemp and hemp-derived CBD.
It is illegal to grow and cultivate hemp without a license. Although the GDA is still drafting regulations, HB 213 provides some preliminary guidelines for those interested in farming hemp.
Applicants are required to undergo a criminal background check performed by local law enforcement. An individual with controlled substance-related convictions is not eligible to apply for a license(18).
Applicants must be qualified agricultural producers with experience. The annual licensing fee is $50 per acre, while the maximum fee is $5,000(19).
Additionally, applicants must provide a written consent that allows the GDA to inspect the area where hemp is grown(20).
The GDA is accepting new applications for Georgia hemp grower licenses and hemp processor permits starting in January 2021(21).
Licensees must provide samples of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products following the sample procedures of the Georgia Hemp Program(22).
The samples are tested to measure their delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration levels on a dry weight basis.
The testing must be conducted and reported by independent lab contractors registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The analytical testing must be conducted according to the US Department of Agriculture‘s most current testing guidelines for identifying delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration in hemp(23).
Based on the guidelines, laboratory quality assurance must ensure the reliability and validity of test results.
Results must prove that the hemp sample contains not more than 0.3% THC. Samples with more than 0.3% THC must be destroyed.
Buying CBD Legally
How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy
Georgia residents can buy CBD tinctures, topicals, and non-edible products. However, CBD in food and drinks is prohibited unless approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(24).
When buying CBD products, choose the one certified by the US Hemp Authority, indicating that the hemp used is grown in an area with strict regulations and high-quality standards.
It is essential to look for the CBD product’s third-party lab reports. The certificate of analysis (COA) states the total amount of cannabinoids in a CBD product and the presence of any harmful contaminants.
Consumers should also check if the CBD provider is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
BBB-accredited companies have met the standards for customer service, transparency, and ethical business practices.
Where to Buy CBD Products Legally
Consumers may buy CBD oil products from these BBB-accredited CBD retailers:
- Inno Medicinals – Atlanta, Georgia
- Free Smoke Vape and Smoke Shop – Norcross, Georgia
- H&M Herbs & Vitamins – Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Dispensaries may apply for a license to distribute low-THC oil products (not the traditional cannabis products) to qualified patients.
CBD products with no amount of THC are also available in online stores. Consumers may purchase directly from a brand’s official website.
It is advisable to consult a medical professional first before buying any CBD product. Consumers should also research CBD’s potential benefits and the CBD brand’s legitimacy.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound obtained from the hemp plant. Unlike marijuana plants, CBD has low THC levels that do not produce intoxicating effects.
Are CBD Oil and Hemp Oil the Same?
CBD oil can be obtained through different varieties of the cannabis plant. The compound is extracted from the plant’s leaves, flowers, and stalks.
Meanwhile, hemp oil is acquired from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant.
What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil?
Researchers have suggested the use of CBD for pain and inflammation, stress and anxiety, sleep, neurological disorders, and cancer-related symptoms(25).
Epidiolex is currently the only CBD product for epilepsy approved by the FDA(26).
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
CBD is generally well-tolerated and safe to use(27). However, CBD has side effects, including nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, dry mouth, and diarrhea(28).
According to research, CBD may also interact with certain drugs or supplements(29).
Under Georgia law, CBD products are legal, except for CBD edibles, CBD-infused animal feed, or CBD-infused dietary supplements.
The Georgia Hemp Farming Act gave way to the legalization of hemp-based CBD products that conform with federal law requirements.
The state’s medical marijuana program allows patients to legally possess and use CBD-rich cannabis oil that contains 5% THC or less.
Patients must be diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions and have a “low THC oil registry card.”
Consumers may purchase CBD oil products with zero THC from stores and the brand’s official website.
*The information shared in this article was based on findings retrieved on November 10, 2020. The legality and regulations for CBD may change without notice.
- Georgia General Assembly. House Bill 213. Retrieved from: https://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20192020/187562.pdf
- Farm Bill. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
- Georgia General Assembly. 2015-2016 Regular Session – HB 1 Haleigh’s Hope Act. Retrieved from: https://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/1
- Georgia Department of Agriculture. Hemp Growers and Processors. Retrieved from: https://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_news/legal_notices/files/2020/Georgia-Hemp-Rules-(January-2020)(CLEAN).pdf
- House Bill 213. op. cit.
- Georgia Department of Agriculture. (May 2019). CBD Oil Still Unlawful as a Food Additive in Georgia. Retrieved from: https://agr.georgia.gov/cbd-oil-still-unlawful-as-a-food-additive-in-georgia.aspx
- HB 1 Haleigh’s Hope Act. op. cit.
- Georgia Department of Public Health. Low THC Oil – FAQ for General Public. Retrieved from: https://dph.georgia.gov/low-thc-oil-faq-general-public
- Georgia General Assembly. 2019-2020 Regular Session – HB 324 Georgia’s Hope Act. Retrieved from: https://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20192020/HB/324
- Hemp Growers and Processors. op. cit.
- Georgia Department of Public Health. op. cit.
- NORML.org. Georgia Laws and Penalties. Retrieved from: https://norml.org/laws/georgia-penalties/
- Hemp Growers and Processors. op. cit.
- Georgia Department of Agriculture. Georgia Hemp Program. Retrieved from: https://agr.georgia.gov/georgia-hemp-program.aspx
- Hemp Growers and Processors. op. cit.
- Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. (2018). A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 152-161.
- Rubin, R. (2018). The path to the first FDA-approved cannabis-derived treatment and what comes next. Jama, 320(12), 1227-1229.
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
- Machado Bergamaschi, M., Helena Costa Queiroz, R., Waldo Zuardi, A., & Crippa, A. S. (2011). Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Current drug safety, 6(4), 237-249.
- Brown, J. D., & Winterstein, A. G. (2019). Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(7), 989. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8070989. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678684/