Georgia Begins Accepting Hemp Processor Permit Applications

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | March 05, 2020

On March 3, 2020, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (“GDA”) announced that it will begin accepting Hemp Processor Permit Applications. Below we summarize some of the key takeaways and share highlights from our application checklist to help you navigate Georgia’s application process.

THE BASICS

Who needs a Hemp Processor Permit? Any person or business in Georgia that plans to process or store hemp must obtain a Hemp Processor Permit (“Permit”) from GDA before receiving, processing, handling, or storing any hemp. Permits will only be issued to processing facilities. GDA will not issue Permits to applicants that only operate retail stores. Processors may only process and handle hemp lawfully grown by licensed growers in Georgia, by out-of-state or tribal growers licensed under hemp plans approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), or by growers licensed by the USDA.

What activities are not authorized by a Hemp Processor Permit? Permits do not authorize a Processor to cultivate, farm, or produce living hemp clones. If you intend to cultivate, farm or produce living clones you must apply for and separately obtain a Hemp Growers License from GDA when such licenses become available.  Permits also do not authorize Processors to possess, process, or handle any hemp materials with a total THC concentration greater than 0.3%, which would be considered marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance. Further, any processing that results in total THC levels above 0.3 % must be disposed of by a DEA-registered reverse distributor in the presence of law enforcement.

What does a Hemp Processor Permit cost?

Initial Fee. The initial Permit fee is $25,000.00, payable upon GDA’s approval of the application. GDA will not accept this payment until it accepts the application, at which time GDA will provide information on how such payment shall be made.

Renewal Fee. Upon the annual renewal of a Permit, Processors must pay an annual renewal fee of $10,000.00 prior to December 31 each year.

Surety Bond. Processors must have and maintain a $100,000.00 surety bond issued by a surety company that is authorized to do business in Georgia.

Other Costs. Processors are also responsible for all other costs associated with complying with all rules and regulations for processing hemp in Georgia such as sampling and testing costs.

How often must a Hemp Processor Permit be renewed? Permits are valid for each calendar year. Processors planning to apply for and obtain Permits in 2020, must submit required information and fees by December 31, 2020 to renew their Permit for the 2021 year. To renew Permits, Processors must submit renewal applications including the annual fee of $10,000.00 and annual criminal background checks to the GDA by December 31. Failure to submit the required information and fees by the December 31 deadline will cause the Permit to expire.

GETTING STARTED

Georgia’s Hemp Processor Permit application requires many technical steps and additional documentation that applicants cannot afford to miss. We have put together a checklist to help our clients in applying for Permits in Georgia. Below are some of the highlights from our checklist:

  1. The Application
  2. Legal Description of Processing/Storage Facility from County Courthouse
  3. Certificate of Existence
  4. All Business Licenses
  5. Aerial Map of Processing/Storage Facility
  6. Written Agreements with Growers (if processing hemp by Georgia growers)
  7. Affidavits of Agreements or Intended Agreements (if processing hemp by Georgia growers)
  8. Surety Bond of $100,000.00
  9. Background checks and fingerprints of all persons holding a beneficial interest in the Permit
  10. Initial Permit Fee of $25,000.00

The above checklist is not exclusive of all the information, documents and steps required for successfully applying for and obtaining a Hemp Processor Permit in Georgia. For example, the application also requires detailed information about the organizational structure of your business and disposal plans for all parts of the hemp plant that your facility receives. For a complete checklist and more information about applying to process hemp in Georgia or for more information about the latest guidance in this emerging hemp industry, contact Miller & Martin attorney Stephanie Savage or any other member of our Cannabis & Hemp practice.