brad-haire-farm-press-GA-hemp-5.jpg Brad Haire

The last Southeastern state to get legal hemp

Georgia was the last Southeastern state to enact hemp legislative.

On May 10, 2019 Georgia became the country’s latest hemp state when Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Hemp Farming Act and authorized the Georgia Department of Agriculture to license Georgia farmers to grow hemp.

Georgia was the last Southeastern state to take such action.

According to information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2017, 38 states and Puerto Rico considered legislation related to industrial hemp. Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, North Dakota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming enacted hemp legislation in 2017. Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin authorized hemp research or pilot programs.

Soon after the 2014 Farm Bill hit the field and cleared a regulatory path for legal U.S. hemp again, Kentucky started its hemp pilot program, pushing to be the country’s leading state for it. It’s well on the path to being that.

As of 2019, 47 states had created and enacted legislation to establish hemp programs. Idaho, South Dakota and Mississippi have not created such legislation, yet, according to information provided by the NCSL.

The USDA, the last week in October, announced its anticipated interim rules for U.S. hemp handling, establishing its federal regulatory framework.

Hemp mania growing? Maybe — for some in some places. Hemp is an interesting plant with a long history with the potential to be a valuable commodity for some U.S. regions and growers. Hemp also has that equally interesting shady relative.

Tim Coolong, University of Georgia Extension vegetable horticulturist, legally grew hemp in Georgia in 2019. The only person to do so. The Georgia Hemp Farming Act allowed him to do research.

Hemp processors and hemp growers in states that started hemp programs sooner rather than later may have a stronger leg up than processors and growers in states that enacted programs later. But the U.S. hemp industry is in its early stages of development. Evolving. States with younger hemp programs may learn from already established programs in other regions and possibly move forward at a quicker pace. We'll see.

Good luck. Take care and thanks for reading.

TAGS: Regulatory
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