New Jersey Governor signs Hemp Bill

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New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation last week to expand the opportunities for industrial hemp in the state.

It’s been a really odd state of affairs in New Jersey with medical cannabis cultivation legal, but a very limited industrial hemp program so far – but New Jersey hasn’t been alone in this.

However, A5322 will change this. It establishes a program for cultivation, handling, processing, transport, and sale of hemp. It also repeals the New Jersey Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, replacing it with a permanent program that will seek to pursue related opportunities to the maximum extent permitted by federal law.

“Garden State farmers are now able to increase and diversify their crop yield through cultivating industrial hemp,” said Senator Steven Oroho, sponsor of the legislation. “With burdensome regulations removed, family farmers can greatly benefit from this potential billion dollar industry.”

Governor Murphy signed a bill to begin the pilot program for the state’s farmers to produce industrial hemp in November 2018, just prior to the federal Farm Bill 2018 being signed that removed hemp as a controlled substance and recognised it as an agricultural crop.

Things were at a standstill for the state’s pilot program as the New Jersey Department of Agriculture was awaiting the USDA to propose its hemp rules; so whether this will remain the case isn’t clear at this point. 

The USDA says:

“It is expected that the final rule will be implemented by the end of calendar year 2019. Until the final rule is implemented, all rules and restrictions must be followed per Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.”

The New Jersey governor’s embracing of cannabis generally has been significant in the evolution of related industries in the state and the availability of medicines. A slew of changes to New Jersey’s medical cannabis program were signed into law last month by Governor Phil Murphy, expanding access to medical marijuana.

New Jersey was a pioneer in legalising medical marijuana, with its Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act signed into law back in 2010. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of Phil Murphy as Governor in 2018 that its program started to rapidly evolve.

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