ATLANTA (CBS46) — The world of cannabis cultivation is descending on Atlanta. 

A massive expo will focus on the plant better known for marijuana and CBD.

Nationwide, cannabis sales increased by nearly 70 percent in 2020 compared to a year earlier. And not only are sales growing, cannabis itself is growing in the Georgia clay.

Displays of cannabis products, and seminars promising jobs and careers in cannabis, are offering Georgia farmers a fresh crop. Soon to be growing in tidy rows on Dwight Hirch's yellow flagged acres in Candler County.

"30,000 plants this year," Hirsch said. "Each will yield one to three pounds of plant material." 

Hirsch, his dogs, and business partners are planting their second season of cannabis. Some of the first had to be destroyed because some plants were too high in the ingredient THC, the marijuana high.

"We had to destroy quite a few plants last year because they exceeded that," Hirsch said.

That, is 0.3 percent THC, the threshold ordered by the Georgia Legislature, for legal cannabis cultivation. Under state law, the partners create legal products in their shop five miles from the farm off Interstate 16 near Metter.

A tray of paper tubes fills with cannabis flour. Workers add tips, other flavors, and sell over 100 different variations. All over the counter. All legal to grow in Georgia with a license, as long as the ingredients stay under 0.3 percent THC.

Hirsch makes it clear that what he grows and sells is not a doper high.

"It is not psychoactive," Hirsch said. "It's not stoner-ish, it's not that."

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black's job is to keep it legal. His inspectors work the farms just as they do gasoline pumps and butcher scales. If they find illegal plants, they turn them over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"This is a very complex issue filled with opportunity, but also filled with complexity," Black said.

A complexity the convention in Atlanta hopes to explain to eager entrepreneurs. 

None of this concerns recreational marijuana, which is still banned in Georgia. In fact, only 16 states, plus Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing it.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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