In compliance with the Federal Agriculture Act of 2014, Georgia lawmakers have filed a bill to allow the cultivation of experimental industrial hemp crops. Hemp, also known as Cannabis was once a major industrial crop for American farmers since the colonial days until the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
House Bill 704, filed by State Rep. John Pezold and House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Chairman Tom McCall and others, would allow Georgia to establish a pilot program for the purpose of studying the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp. According to federal law, hemp is considered to be the cannabis plant with 0.3% or less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound associated with the euphoric affects (the high) of marijuana.
James Bell, director of Georgia C.A.R.E. asked legislators to file a bill that complies with the federal law and lawmakers responded.
According to Bell, at least 20 states have hemp legislation including South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Tennessee plans to put seeds in the ground this spring under their newly establish program.
“Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry. Hemp has the potential of becoming one of Georgia’s most versatile and lucrative crops”, Bell said. “We should not be the last state to get on board with hemp. Hemp farming will create new jobs, new industries and is an eco-friendly commodity. Hemp could be a billion dollar crop for Georgia.”
The hemp plant can be used for its fibers, seed oils and cellulose for the manufacturing of food, clothing, bio-mass fuels as well as building materials and plastics. Hemp can be used to produce thousands of products. America currently imports the commodity from other nations with an estimated value of over $500 million. But, the plant can only be grown under this experimental program within the US.
Activist will seek out additional co-sponsors of the bill which could be considered by the Georgia General Assembly as soon as 2016.
AGRICULTURAL ACT OF 2014 – President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 on February 7, 2014 including Section 7606 known as “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research.” Section 7606 defines industrial hemp (.3% or less THC) & authorizes institutions of higher education or state department’s of agriculture in states that legalized hemp cultivation to promulgate regulations to grow hemp as an agricultural pilot program.