In July 2019, a law was passed allowing farmers to legally grow hemp in the state of Georgia. Hemp has many industrial uses, and can also be used to produce consumables containing CBD oil. The medical benefits of CBD oil are becoming apparent, leading to a massive push on the national level to get CBD products on the market and make them available to the public. While many may benefit from the new law, it has caused some confusion, and law enforcement may now hesitate to arrest someone for marijuana possession.
The confusion lies in the plant itself. Technically, hemp and marijuana are the same plant. They look the same and smell the same, often making it difficult to distinguish between the two variants. Hemp is legal, marijuana is not. If a person is found to be in possession of what appears to be marijuana, he or she may be unfairly accused of a crime if it turns out to be hemp.
Currently, the way to tell the difference between the two is to test the level of THC, the chemical contained in the plant that causes the “high.” To be classified as hemp, a plant must have 0.03% or less THC content. Obviously, having access to laboratory testing is not realistic for the general public. Since hemp products and CBD-infused items can now be purchased at convenience stores and other such locations, and grown legally, Georgia consumers may have trouble defending against a charge that they violated the law.
While some Georgia counties have put a hold on prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession and similar crimes, the initiative is not statewide. Anyone charged with marijuana possession might want to consider consulting and experienced attorney. An attorney can help a client though the legal process, and work to ensure that the burden of proof remains squarely upon the prosecution.