Governor Murphy Signs Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Bill Into Law

Governor Murphy signs legislation.

Today, Governor Murphy signed the following bill into law:

A1330 (Gusciora, Pinkin, Reynolds-Jackson/O’Scanlon, Gopal) – Directs Dept. of Agriculture to create pilot program to research cultivation of industrial hemp.

From the bill statement:

This bill directs the Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program that promotes the study and cultivation of hemp to the maximum extent permitted by federal law.  The department may partner with any qualified institution of higher education to administer the program; however, any person participating in the program must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary of Agriculture that the person has complied with all federal requirements related to the cultivation of industrial hemp.

 The department is also required to adopt rules and regulations to administer the program.  These include creating requirements for the licensing or contracting of growers participating in the program, prescribing hemp testing procedures to ensure compliance with federal law, creating a fee structure for administration of the program, and certifying germinating seeds and hemp cultivars if necessary.  Any rule or regulation adopted by the department must comply with federal law.

The bill also amends various sections of statutory law to ensure that any person validly participating in the agricultural pilot program is exempted from crimes and penalties related to the purchase, sale, or cultivation of marijuana, as the statutory definitions of “marijuana” frequently encompass hemp.

Industrial hemp is used in a wide variety of products including textiles, construction materials, and foodstuffs.  The demand for these goods is growing at the State and national level and hemp can be a viable agricultural crop in the State.  The ability to grow hemp on an industrial scale would allow farmers to diversify their products by adding a lucrative cash crop and researching cultivation methods of industrial hemp would greatly aid farmers seeking to grow hemp for the first time.

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