Last May, Georgia adopted the Hemp Farming Act, which legalized the growth and sale of hemp products. Both hemp and marijuana come from cannabis but are structurally different and used for various purposes. Hemp contains minimal amounts of THC, which is the substance that causes someone to get high when using marijuana.
Georgia’s law meets federal requirements that industrial hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC, and the state must license growers. However, no legitimate test exists to measure the amount of THC in a person suspected of a crime. While officers can test for the presence of THC, there’s no way to tell if the substance is marijuana or legalized hemp.
Counties react differently to enforcement challenges
Several Georgia counties have weighed in on how they are handling marijuana cases since the law went into effect:
- Gwinnett County stopped prosecuting cases that happened after May 10 and said it was throwing out hundreds of other cases, and that officers will no longer make arrests for misdemeanor pot possession. However, drivers can still be charged with DUI if blood tests show THC in your system.
- Cobb County said no cases were being dismissed and would be handled case by case. However, police officials said they were not recommending officers to arrest people for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.
- DeKalb County said it would dismiss cases and would not prosecute any single-count cases that occurred after the new law was passed.
- Athens-Clarke County said while it would not make any new arrests or issue citations, they will confiscate and hold onto evidence until reliable testing is available.
Sale of hemp products will make enforcement more difficult
One of the most common uses for hemp is through cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is believed by some to have therapeutic qualities for relieving stress and anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and some forms of cancer. Advocates say CDB oil contributes to a person’s well-being without the euphoric sensation caused by THC from marijuana. If you have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney here in Georgia will protect your rights.