New Jersey’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has advanced a bill that would allow and regulate the growing, harvesting, processing, selling and buying of industrial hemp.
But don’t start drawing up a business plan just yet: No licenses would be issued unless the federal government legalizes industrial hemp or takes steps toward issuing permits to producers in states that have similar laws.
Several states, most notably Colorado, have legalized industrial hemp production and are now in the process of regulating the industry.
But it’s still illegal at the federal level, although there is some political will to change the situation. Businesses can process and sell hemp products, however it must be purchased from vendors outside the country.
The New Jersey bill – A2415 – was sponsored by Democrat Reed Gusciora, who had worked on the state’s medical marijuana bill, which passed in 2010. Gusciora referenced hemp’s history within the United States and value as an industrial material after the vote.
“It’s one of the most versatile plants,” he said. “You can make clothing out of it. It’s used in cooking.”