TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Steve Oroho, Senator Jim Beach and Senator Bob Andrzejczak that will create a statewide program for the cultivation, handling, processing, transport, and sale of hemp and hemp products in New Jersey was signed into law today.
“The hemp industry offers an expanding market for farmers to grow their crops and for processors to produce new hemp products,” said Senator Sweeney (D- Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “New Jersey’s agriculture industry has the capacity and ability to capitalize on new opportunities for hemp products that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities.
“In order to make this law a reality we appropriated $500,000 to the Department of Agriculture, which is one of the line items currently frozen by the Governor. I hope that by signing this bill today, Governor Murphy sees the immense economic benefit this program will be for the Garden State and takes the temporary hold off the funds needed to ensure the expansion of the hemp industry gets off to a strong and thriving start.”
The law will replace the state’s pilot hemp program with a permanent one run by the Department of Agriculture. The legislature appropriated $500,000 in FY2020 to the New Jersey Hemp Farming Fund. However, after signing the budget, the Murphy Administration subsequently froze the funds, citing uncertainty over revenue forecasts.
“The pilot program led to the cultivation of just under 10,000 acres of hemp. Now, there are estimates that over 1,200 hemp farmers are operating on over 40,000 acres,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “With all the new processors now operating, we have the opportunity for dramatic growth in New Jersey. These regulations will get this done.”
The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning nine markets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care.
“The demand for hemp goods is growing and hemp can be a viable crop in New Jersey,” said Senator Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “The ability to grow this product on an industrial scale will allow farmers to expand their harvests by adding a lucrative cash crop and researching cultivation methods of industrial hemp would greatly aid farmers.”
The law will make it lawful for a hemp producer to cultivate, handle, or process hemp or hemp products in the State, and for any person to possess, transport, sell, and purchase legally-produced hemp products in the State. Any unauthorized person who cultivates, handles, or processes living hemp would be subject to the same penalties as those related to marijuana.