The use of CBD oil is legal in Georgia. In 2015, the Georgia state legislature passed House Bill 1, also known as the Haleigh's Hope Act, which permitted patients with specific medical conditions to avail themselves of the benefits of low THC oil. Low THC oil is described in the law as an oil containing less than 5% THC and at least an equal amount of CBD on a dry weight basis.
While marijuana is illegal in Georgia for recreational or medical purposes, HB 1 gave legal immunity to patients who wish to use low THC oil derived from marijuana. HB 1 listed specific ailments which qualified Georgia residents to seek and use CBD, provided their doctors had recommended it as a beneficial therapy.
On the other hand, the 2018 Farm Bill and the Georgia Hemp Bill (HB 213) made hemp-derived CBD available for all Georgia residents. Hence, CBD oil derived from hemp is legal in Georgia.
In 2015, Georgia's House Bill 1, the Haleigh’s Hope Act, was passed and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal. It permitted the use of CBD to treat or alleviate the distress of patients suffering from certain specific ailments listed in the law. HB 1 created the Low THC Oil Patient Registry, a register of individuals permitted to access CBD, and it gave them access to as much as 20 ounces of CBD oil. HB 1 also created the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, a 16-member oversight body tasked with overseeing Georgia's medical cannabis program regulation.
Furthermore, the Georgia state Senate passed Senate Bill 16 in 2017. One of its major additions was to broaden the number of diseases and conditions that allowed patients access to CBD. Under the provisions of SB 16, it was now permissible for persons with medical conditions such as autism, Alzheimer's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Epidermolysis Bullosa, and patients in the terminal stages of illnesses to access a range of CBD therapies. Furthermore, SB 16 allowed holders of medical cannabis cards from other US states to use low THC oil in Georgia.
In 2018, Georgia's House Bill 65 was initiated as an amendment to the existing laws relating to the use of medical cannabis. HB 65 created the Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access. The commission's brief was to oversee a government plan to increase access to medical cannabis across the state of Georgia and to ensure that prices remained stable and affordable for registered patients.
Moreover, Georgia’s Hope Act (HB 324) was passed to address the inability of patients to access medical cannabis in the form of CBD oil. HB 324 also allowed issuing Class 1 and Class 2 licenses to Georgia companies wishing to produce CBD oil and derivatives. The bill granted Georgia university permission to obtain hemp from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for CBD oil production. Crucially, to remove the prospect of conflicts of interest, HB 324 made it unlawful for doctors in Georgia to own stakes in companies involved in the production and distribution of CBD.
In addition, the Georgia Hemp Farming Act (HB 213) was passed in May 2019. HB 213 amended the provisions of the law about regulating prohibited substances. Significantly, it redefined hemp as a medical substance, contrary to its earlier placement as a Schedule 1 drug following the federal Farm Bill. The law specified a THC content of not more than 0.3% for hemp-derived CBD oil and products on a dry weight basis. HB 213 allowed Georgia authorities to award licenses and permits to individuals and companies interested in cultivating and producing medical hemp.
The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 195 in 2022. SB 195 gave additional authority to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. It also granted Georgia colleges and universities the right to conduct joint research ventures with Class 1 or 2 licensees. Class 1 license holders are authorized to grow hemp in indoor facilities, which may reach a maximum size of 10,000 square feet. They are also allowed to manufacture CBD oil and other hemp-derived products. Class 2 license holders are authorized to grow hemp to produce CBD oil in an indoor facility reaching a maximum size of 50,000 square feet. SB 195 also gave the Georgia Board of Pharmacy the authority to issue low THC oil dispensing licenses. The bill also recognized that CBD oil could be sold in various forms, ranging from liquids to tinctures and capsules, as well as lotions and skin patches. However, it banned the sale of CBD-infused food and edibles.
Georgia permits patients registered under its Low THC oil program to possess up to 20 ounces of low THC oil containing no more than 5% THC and at least an equal amount of CBD. Penalties for possession above statutory limits are as follows:
Above 20 ounces but below 160 ounces - a felony charge of trafficking which is punishable with a prison sentence of between 1 and 10 years and a fine of up to $50,000
Between 160 and 32,000 ounces - a felony charge punishable with a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000
Between 31,000 and 154,000 ounces - a felony charge punishable with a prison sentence of between 7 and 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000
Above 154,000 ounces - a felony charge punishable by a prison sentence of between 10 and 20 years and a fine of up to $1,000,000
There is no possession limit for hemp-derived CBD in Georgia. Adult Georgia residents can freely possess and use CBD and its products, provided its THC content is not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. CBD users must ascertain that their hemp-derived CBD products are within the set limits, and Georgia residents must purchase CBD oil from a licensed outlet.
Per Georgia’s Hope Act, doctors can prescribe low THC oil with high CBD content for patients suffering from an approved medical condition and disorder. The Act states that doctors may only recommend low THC oil to patients they provide primary or specialist care.
Georgia recognizes some specific conditions for which it allows the use of CBD oil. These medical conditions include post-traumatic stress disorder, AIDS, sickle cell disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette's syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. Other conditions and diseases covered by the law are amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, epileptic seizures, Crohn's disease, Mitochondrial disease, Epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer's disease, intractable pain, and patients in hospice care.
To be granted entry into the Georgia Low THC Oil Registry, patients must sign the Low THC Oil Waiver forms acknowledging their medical conditions and consenting to use marijuana-derived CBD and low THC oil in their treatment. The waiver essentially indemnifies the recommending doctor and the state of Georgia against any future legal action that a patient or their relatives may bring.
However, residents do not need doctors’ prescriptions to use hemp-derived CBD oil in the state. Adults aged 21 years and above may purchase and use hemp-derived CBD oil from physical and online stores.
Georgia only allows dispensaries to sell CBD to individuals aged 18 or older. This age restriction means that you must bring your ID to a CBD store or dispensary in Georgia to buy the CBD products on offer.
In Georgia, licenses and permits for the growth of hemp and the production of CBD are issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA). Individuals and companies who intend to cultivate hemp or produce hemp-derived CBD oil must file either a Hemp Processor Permit application or a Grower License application on the department's website. The Department of Agriculture conducts criminal background checks on the applicants to ensure that they have not been convicted in the past for misdemeanors or felonies relating to the abuse or sale of prohibited substances.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture does not allow simultaneous applications from a single individual or company for Hemp Processor Permits and Grower's Licenses. It also makes it mandatory for a processor permit applicant to indicate the exact source of the hemp from which their CBD oil and products will be made. For the year 2022, the GDA approved two companies as hemp processors. Licenses and permits are issued in January of each year and are renewable annually upon the payment of the required fees. Licensees are required by law to consent to the state of Georgia and its agents the right to inspect without notice facilities where hemp is being cultivated, harvested, or processed.
The state of Georgia insists that all license and permit holders must process CBD oil and derivatives from hemp only and not from the marijuana variant of the cannabis plant. All CBD products in Georgia must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, and state officials regularly test samples of processed hemp to ensure that it conforms to statutory requirements. Processors that contravene any of Georgia's rules on hemp use or THC percentages risk having their products confiscated and destroyed. Producers of CBD generally tend to provide information panels indicating the quantity of CBD contained, whether it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate CBD, and the percentage of total THC content if present.
The legalization of hemp-derived CBD oil granted residents of Georgia access to its products. CBD oil and products are readily available in pharmacies and dispensaries across the state, and manufacturers must indicate the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol on their packaging or containers. Georgia residents can also have hemp-derived CBD from online stores, and CBD stores often limit sales to persons aged 21 years and above.
As a result of the FDA’s ban on the use of CBD as food additives or supplements, Georgia restaurants and bars are prohibited from serving CBD-infused food and beverages.
When it is extracted from hemp, CBD presents as a thick paste. To make it last longer and easier to consume, manufacturers often mix this thick paste with carrier oils, such as coconut oil and hemp seed oil. The resulting mixture is CBD oil.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical ingredient in the Cannabis sativa plant. The plant also contains another popular component called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive and causes the intoxicating and euphoric effects associated with cannabis. CBD is mainly present in the hemp variant and is non-psychoactive. There are three types of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD is produced using all the prime compounds from the hemp plant, including cannabinoids, THC, terpenes, and flavonoids. Broad-spectrum CBD contains minuscule elements of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and a trace of THC. Isolate CBD is a pure form of CBD with no other cannabis compound. In the production process to isolate CBD, all traces of other compounds in the hemp plant are chemically extracted, leaving a pure crystalline substance.
In recent years, CBD has gained a reputation for its therapeutic benefits. Purveyed most commonly as CBD oil, it can also take the form of gelatinous sweets known as gummies, edibles such as cookies, and topical formulas like balms, ointments, creams, and lotions. CBD has been used to treat various ailments and disorders, from chronic pain to cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged the therapeutic uses of CBD in 2018 when it approved Epidiolex for treating seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex contains a purified form of CBD. However, the FDA warns against the use of CBD as a dietary supplement or by women who are either pregnant or lactating.
In 2018, the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) legalized industrial hemp and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act, marking a shift towards a more benign view of cannabis-related substances and derivatives. Hemp is a Cannabis sativa variant containing no more than 0.3% THC. In all 50 states in the US, it is legal to use hemp-derived CBD, even though there are localized caveats and restrictions governing its use. Georgia has made it legal for residents to use CBD oil and products, so long as they are derived solely from hemp and not the Marijuana plant. However, persons interested in marijuana-derived CBD must register for the low THC oil registry program, provided they are certified by physicians to have qualifying medical conditions or diseases.
CBD has a number of neurological effects that gives it certain health benefits. For example, it is a proven anti-seizure medication approved for managing different types of epilepsy. CBD’s neuroprotective properties also make it useful for managing a number of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Preliminary evidence also supports its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects making it useful for treating chronic pain, joint pain, and even skin inflammation. Other lesser known possible benefits of CBD include boosting appetite and lowering blood pressure.
Individuals taking CBD products may fail cannabis drug tests in Georgia simply because of the presence of THC in these products. While Georgia only allows low-THC CBD products, variations in batches and dubious manufacturing and testing processes can produce products with significantly higher THC levels. While unlikely, it is also possible to test positive for THC and its metabolites following regular use of high doses of CBD products.