Georgia is starting out 2024 by introducing proposed legislation that would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing hemp products, bumping the age limit up from 18. Originally introduced as LC 55 0145, Senate Bill 350 aims to update regulation on its hemp industry. At the time of this writing, Senate Bill 350 is still under consideration and not yet passed into law.
Senate Bill 350 Reaffirms the Definition of Hemp Product in Georgia
The first portion of Senate Bill 350 reaffirms the definition of what a hemp product is and how it is separate from its more potent cousin, marijuana. Since legal cannabis is available in Georgia, the separation between the hemp and marijuana industries is vital for compliance reasons.
The Age Limit is Raised
The main focal point of Senate Bill 350 is its wording to raise the legal age to purchase hemp products from 18 to 21. If passed into law, this bill would make it “It shall be unlawful for any individual under the age of 21 years to knowingly: (1) Purchase, attempt to purchase, or possess any consumable hemp product; or (2) Misrepresent his or her identity or age or use any false identification for the purpose of obtaining, or attempting to obtain, any consumable hemp product.”
Businesses selling hemp products would also become responsible for posting signage in plain view and verifying the age of the consumer before purchase. These requirements are similar to already existing regulations around tobacco and alcohol products.
However, proper identification has clear boundaries as set forth by Senate Bill 350. The following fall under the allowed forms of identification:
- A passport
- Military ID
- Driver’s License
- Any Identification Card authorized under Codes Sections 40-5-100 through 40-5-104
Please note that the Senate Bill specifically excludes birth certificates as allowed identification for purchasing hemp products.
According to the Senate Bill, “In any case where a reasonable or prudent person could reasonably be in doubt as to whether or not the individual to whom any consumable hemp product is to be sold or otherwise furnished is 21 years of age or older, it shall be the duty of the person selling or otherwise furnishing such consumable hemp product to request to see and to be furnished with proper identification in order to verify the age of such individual. The failure to make such request and verification in any case where the individual to whom any consumable hemp product is sold or otherwise furnished is under the age of 21 years may be considered by the trier of fact in determining whether the person who sold or otherwise furnished such consumable hemp product did so knowingly.”
What Are the Penalties Associated with Senate Bill 350?
What will happen to a business that sells hemp products to someone under the legal age limit? What about those who are underage that are caught with hemp products? If caught, the individual in violation of Senate Bill 350 would be charged with a misdemeanor under Georgia state law.
According to The Lopes Law Firm, “A misdemeanor charge typically relates to offenses that are punishable by up to one year in jail or fines up to $1,000.”
Why are Georgia Lawmakers Seeking to
Raise the Legal Age to Purchase Hemp-Derived Products?
A variation of reasons has propelled lawmakers across the nation to adjust regulations on hemp-derived products. Some of the most popular reasons include;
- To prevent poor quality and potentially dangerous products from entering the market
- To prevent children from accessing hemp-derived products, especially hemp-derived Delta THC products
- To adjust to the new products available on the market.
If you are a Georgia resident interested in sharing your opinions with your senator regarding Senate Bill 350, please locate your representative using the Georgia General Assembly website.