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New hemp test lab opens in Macon

Georgia has made it legal to grow and process hemp, as long as farmers and processors go to labs to test THC levels.

MACON, Ga. — SJ Labs and Analytics is the first hemp testing lab in the state of Georgia and it's right here in Macon.

Owner Sarah Johnson says she's ready to get to work.

"Hemp is federally legal, it's defined as a THC level of 0.3 percent, so it's a little different than weed or marijuana," Johnson said.

Under the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, farmers can now legally grow and process hemp across the state.

"Part of that legislation requires that they have testing at an independent lab that confirms that is in fact hemp and not cannabis so that the THC level is below the psychoactive level," Johnson said.

Johnson says that's where her new lab, SJ Labs and Analytics, comes into play.

"Help the farmer and the processor in the development of a good process and risk management of their crop, and just trying to figure out with everybody how we move this new industry forward in very unprecedented times," she said.

According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, there are over 80 state approved hemp growers in the state. Johnson says her lab offers more than just potency tests for growers.

"We also offer testing for pesticides, residuals, solvents, Turpin analysis, micro-toxins, heavy metals, and microbiology screens. Those ensure safety for the consumer at the end product," she said.

Johnson says right now, they have a staff of three people, but that could change by 2021.

"We hope to be able to bring in a couple technicians by the end of the year, right now, we're in the process of setting up the methods and really getting the development ironed out."

Johnson says right now, their main targets are Georgia growers, but they do hope to branch out to other growers in other states.

Johnson says they are also looking into possibly having student interns who are interested in science by next year.

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