Subscription Legal Services Helping Hemp and Medical Marijuana Businesses in Georgia
The hemp industry has proven itself to be highly lucrative and as a result, there are many businesses and individuals interested in preparing themselves to grow and process hemp in Georgia. There are many ways that growers and processors can get ready to apply for the hemp grower license and processor permit.
How much will a grower’s license cost?
There is an annual fee for a grower’s license which is set at $50 per acre, up to but no more than $5000.00 per year.
How much will a processor’s permit cost?
There is an annual fee for a processor’s permit which is $25,0000.00. If the processor is in compliance with the regulatory agency and has had no administrative action taken against them, then the permittee will be able to auto-renew the permit thereafter for $10,000.00 per year.
Can an individual or business possess both a grower license and processor permit?
Yes, in theory. The Hemp Farming Act explicitly contemplates that scenario and although no one person or company may hold multiple grower or processor permits, they may hold one grower and one processor permit at the same time.
However, if two hemp growers were lawfully issued licenses and then became family by way of marriage, their permits will not be denied because of a familial relationship that was created after the initial issuance of the permits.
When they talk about a “person” in this context, they also mean all members of the applicant’s family and all corporations or business entities in which the applicant holds more than a 50% ownership interest.
The term “family” is also defined as any person related to the holder of the hemp grower license within the first degree of consanguinity and affinity as computed according to the canon law and who is claimed as a dependent by the licensee for income tax purposes.
The beneficiaries of a trust shall be considered to have a beneficial interest in any business forming a part of the trust estate.
Do hemp growers and processors have to disclose their partners?
Yes. Not only will the application for both growing and processing licenses require that information, once processors receive a license, they must also keep their records up-to-date with the Department. In fact, the processor must provide a copy of all written agreements with all growers and other processors to the Department within 10 days of signing those agreements.
Are processors financially liable when their grower is not compliant?
Yes. As it stands now, crops will be routinely tested for compliance with the Act’s requirement that all hemp plants contain .330 percent or less of THC. If the crop fails inspection twice, then the crop must be destroyed. In that instance, the processor with be liable for half of the amount of the combined value of the seed, fertilizer, labor costs, and any other reasonable and customary input expenses incurred with such destroyed crop (at least until December 31, 2022).
What to do if the Department determines you are not in compliance with the statute?
The Act requires a ‘Corrective Plan’ which should include a date when the issue will be fixed and the permittee must schedule regular check-ins with the Department for the following two years. If the permittee is found to be non-compliant 3 times within 5 years, the individual or entity may not reapply for another 5 year period.
Can a processor receive hemp from out of state?
In Georgia, a processor may only receive hemp from a Georgia licensed grower. Any written agreements with said growers must be provided to the Department of Agriculture within 10 days of signing. The only way for a processor to lawfully receive hemp from an out-of-state source would be if such hemp is grown in a state with a plan to regulate hemp production that is approved by the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States or otherwise in accordance with regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Is it legal to sell unprocessed hemp flower under the Act?
Who is a ‘Qualified Agricultural Producer’ under the Act for purposes of applying for a grower’s license?
An owner or renter of agricultural land from which $5000.00 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold during the year.
A person or company that is in the business of performing agricultural operations and has provided $5000.00 of such services during the year.
A person or company in the business of producing long-term agricultural products from which there might not be annual income, including, but not limited to, timber, pulpwood, orchard crops, pecans, and horticultural or other multiyear agricultural or farm products.
A person or company that is actively engaged in the production of agricultural products and has or will have created sufficient volumes to generate at least $2,500.00 in sales annually.
Schedule a call with Erin
Are you starting a new hemp venture in Georgia? Let us guide you through the application process and compliance rules so that you can be ready on day one (and every day thereafter). Talk to Attorney Erin Gerstenzang today.