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SOPERTON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It’s now legal for Georgia farmers to grow hemp. Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 213 into law earlier this month.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is sold in Georgia, but it’s imported from other states.
The bill allows for farmers to grow hemp for CBD products in-state.
A farmer in Soperton says he’s excited to grow hemp. Phillip Jennings III says farmers aren’t making as much money growing tomatoes, peanuts, and other crops. Growing hemp puts money back in their pockets.
“It has nothing to do with cannabis, only that it’s from the same family,” he said.
These days, Jennings and his son Phil Jennings IV scout for peanuts on their property, but this time next year they’ll scout for hemp.
“At first glance, people think it’s cannabis. It’s cannabis, but it’s hemp,” Jennings III said.
The Jennings are waiting to plant hemp seeds.
“All crops right now aren’t making a lot of money. Most farmers are looking for something different,” Jennings IV said.
The bill will allow farmers to get a permit to grow hemp for $50 an acre per year.
The Jennings family grew hemp in Canada, Virginia, and the Carolina’s. They’ve worked through trial and error to see how they can grow hemp in Georgia.
“It’s not just a crop you put in the ground and forget about it. There’s going to be a lot of learning curves and things that you have to know before you go plant a crop,” Jennings III said.
The pair says harvesting, drying, storing, transporting hemp seeds, and growing hemp in Georgia’s heat, are obstacles they want to educate other farmers about.
According to Jennings, the heat can raise the THC levels, while CBD levels remain low. CBD is what’s used in oils people use for medicine.
“We don’t want a farmer to get a field destroyed because it gets out of compliance,” he said.
Georgia farmers say hemp will be a cash crop for themselves and the state.
“We’re hopeful that the University of Georgia is going to step forward and say we got to get farmers up to speed. We’ve lost some years here and we need to get the Georgia farmers up to speed because they desperately need something,” he said.
The United States Department of Agriculture is working with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to finalize guidelines for hemp farmers.
The Jennings expects to start planting early next year.
Jennings hopes administrators in D.C will confine hemp to U.S. farmers and not allow productions from other countries.