ATLANTA (CN) – Republican lawmakers in Georgia are gunning to pass legislation legalizing the distribution of cannabis oil and allowing farmers to grow hemp and medical marijuana, arguing it will be good for industry and people suffering from illness.
“I come from an agriculture community and a lot of farmers are looking for different options, something that can help pay the bills,” Rep. John Corbett, R-Lake Park, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “They’re making money in other states. From the food products and refining the seed, to other products, there’s money in it. It gives our farmers something new to plant.”
Corbett is chairman of the Georgia House Study Committee on Industrial Hemp Production.
Two Republican-led committees, Corbett’s and the Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access, are trying to push through a state law that would provide Georgia farmers another crop to commodify, and give 6,0000 registered patients easier access to medical marijuana.
Since 2015, Georgia has allowed medical patients to use marijuana, but state law still bans buying, selling and transporting it. Next year, the Georgia General Assembly will consider legalizing the growing, cultivating, and distribution of medical marijuana products and hemp.
Cannabis oil is derived from industrial hemp, non-psychoactive and commonly used for its medicinal and therapeutic properties.
While Corbett said he’s never tried cannabis oil because he doesn’t “need it,” he believes Georgia farmers will find new streams of income from the crop.
“North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee – every state that touches Georgia except Alabama – have some kind of program with this. And farmers have success with it,” he said.
Corbett is against recreational marijuana use but said cannabis oil and hemp are different because they have considerably less THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“Marijuana has 18 to 25 percent THC. That’s the chemical that has a hallucination effect. There’s 0.3 percent THC in hemp,” the lawmaker explained. “If someone’s going to smoke a truckload of it, they’re not going to get high.”
Congress is currently considering a farm bill that would legalize production of industrial hemp containing less than 0.3 percent THC. If the bill is approved in Washington by the end of this week and signed into law, Georgia could begin setting up regulations for standards, testing and licensing fees.
“Today or tomorrow, the House will probably pass it and industrial hemp will no longer be illegal. Then, it’s up to the states to apply for a permit from the Department of Agriculture,” Corbett said.