Seeking to expand the state’s commercial hemp market and spur economic growth, Assembly Members Nancy Pinkin and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson have sponsored legislation to allow industrial hemp farming in New Jersey. The bill was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on Wednesday.
“More than twenty industrial hemp-producing countries worldwide each generate millions of dollars in revenue selling everything from fabrics to personal care products made from one of the world’s oldest crops,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Allowing our farmers to grow hemp will be an economic engine for our agribusiness and a way to preserve more farm space in our state.”
The new law, formerly bill A-1330, establishes an industrial hemp license for planting, growing, harvesting, possessing and selling industrial hemp in the state. The law also sets up procedures for persons applying to the Secretary of Agriculture for a hemp license.
“This hemp legislation is pivotal to the economic growth of New Jersey agribusiness,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Due to security and control regulations related to the growth and distribution of legal marijuana in the future, hemp offers lower barriers to entry for farmers that will produce an entirely new revenue stream within our state. Historically, hemp was used to manufacture a wide variety of products, such as canvas, clothing, rope and food products.”
At least 15 states enacted legislation in 2017 – Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, North Dakota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Florida and Nevada authorized research or pilot programs.
“Giving New Jersey farmers the right to compete in this industry – which is worth about half a billion dollars in the United States – starts with this common-sense legislation,” Pinkin said. “The federal government has allowed farmers to benefit from the cultivating of hemp since the 2014 Federal Farm Bill. New Jersey has lagged behind on providing new economic opportunity to our robust farming industry. It is vital that we establish and extend this program as quickly as possible, so that our farmers have a chance to benefit from the incentives. The growth of hemp will ignite manufacturing opportunities within our state, providing well-paying jobs and new products for businesses to expand and develop.”
The bill was advanced by the Assembly on June 30 by a 67-0-7 vote and moved out of the Senate on September 27 33-2.