New Jersey Hemp Overview

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  2. New Jersey Hemp

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis plant family, yet they vary in noteworthy ways. The major difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC concentration level in the cannabis plant.

THC levels in hemp are typically less than 0.3%, but THC levels in marijuana are substantially higher, sometimes higher than 20%. Specifically, in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp in New Jersey and the United States must contain no higher than 0.3% THC. Because of the difference in THC levels, marijuana is usually used for recreational or therapeutic purposes, whereas hemp is mostly used for industrial and commercial purposes.

Still, despite their varying THC levels, hemp and marijuana appear similar, with both having green leaves and buds. Hemp plants, on the other hand, are taller and have skinnier leaves, whereas marijuana plants have shorter and broader leaves.

Hemp may be referred to as industrial hemp by many people. However, industrial hemp refers to a specific strain of hemp farmed for industrial purposes such as textiles, paper, and construction materials. This hemp variety has lower THC levels than ordinary hemp, making it more appropriate for industrial applications.

Hemp plant parts are used in several applications across varying fields. Some parts of the plant that may be used for nutrition include hemp seed, hemp flower, hemp extracts, hemp oil, hemp hearts, and hemp milk. Hemp flowers contain a high concentration of cannabinoids, including CBD cannabidiol, which is widely used for therapeutic purposes. Hemp extract is a concentrated version of the plant's cannabinoids that is frequently used in the production of CBD oil and other CBD products.

Hemp oil is also extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and usually contains high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids levels. It is frequently used in cooking and as a supplement because of its health advantages. Hemp hearts, which are formed from hemp plant seeds, are a popular component in smoothies, salads, and other healthy meals.

Hemp milk is a non-dairy substitute for cow's milk and is produced from pulverized hemp seeds and water. It is a good protein and healthy fats source and a good alternative for persons who are lactose intolerant or who opt not to consume dairy products for other reasons.

Is Hemp Legal in New Jersey?

Yes. The cultivation, processing, and retail sale of hemp and hemp-derived products are legal in New Jersey in accordance with the New Jersey Hemp Farming Act of 2019. Hemp regulation in the United States may be traced to its early cultivation for industrial and commercial uses until its criminalization alongside marijuana in the 1930s. The 2014 Farm Bill was a key step toward hemp legalization, allowing state agricultural departments and universities to cultivate and research industrial hemp with a THC level of less than 0.3%. This measure laid the groundwork for the 2018 Farm Measure, which fully legalized hemp at the federal level, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances.

Prior to the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, the state Department of Agriculture (NJDA) administered the New Jersey Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which allowed farmers to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill. The pilot program sought to investigate the viability of industrial hemp as a crop in New Jersey and to fund research into its different applications. Participants in the pilot program had to obtain an industrial hemp cultivation license from the NJDA. They also had to follow strict regulations, which included seed sourcing, testing, and crop monitoring.

The pilot program was phased out in 2020 in favor of the provisions of the New Jersey Hemp Farming Act, which authorized the production, processing, and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products in the state and established a regulatory framework to govern the industry. Farmers in New Jersey can now cultivate industrial hemp on their property as long as they follow state rules and acquire the relevant permits and licenses. Also, hemp products containing no more than 0.3% THC limit can be shipped across state lines out of or into New Jersey.

What Hemp Products are Legal in New Jersey?

As long as hemp products do not contain more than 0.3% THC, they are legal in New Jersey. Farmers in the state may cultivate hemp for food products, subject to state rules and licensing requirements.

In New Jersey, smoking hemp is allowed as long as it is done in accordance with the state's smoking rules. While smoking hemp in private is permitted, smoking in public is illegal. Drivers and truckers are prohibited from smoking hemp while operating a vehicle since driving is in public view. Such an act may result in legal consequences.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Hemp Farming Act does not allow municipalities to prohibit hemp cultivation and processing within their borders. However, they may place regulations, such as the locations where a cultivation or processing facility may be sited within their borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in New Jersey

Anyone growing hemp in the state must successfully complete the full application process with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and sign a Grower Licensing Application before taking possession of any viable hemp seeds, propagules, or in-program harvested hemp materials. Persons processing or handling hemp materials in the State of New Jersey must also obtain hemp processor/handler licenses from the NJDA.

Follow these steps to complete a hemp grower license application in New Jersey:

  • Complete all parts of the Hemp Grower Application Form

  • Pay a non-refundable $50 application fee (via check or money order addressed to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture)

  • Include the required supporting documentation:

    • A copy of your driver's license

    • Copy of background check from New Jersey State Police (for you and all key participants)

    • A check or money order for $300 plus $15 per acre made payable to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Note that is a separate check or money order from that issue for the application fee

    • Farm, greenhouse, or indoor growing structures, and handling/storage location maps (including name, site address, location ID, Lot Number, and GPS coordinates)

    • Letter of Intent from one or more processors, if not self-processing

    • Signing authority for business entities, if applicable

Mail completed application and other required fees and documentation to:

New Jersey Department of Agriculture

Attn: Hemp Program

PO Box 330

Trenton, New Jersey 08625

To apply for a hemp processor license in New Jersey, follow these steps:

  • Complete the Hemp Processor/Handler Application Form

  • Pay a $50 application fee (via check or money order)

  • Pay a hemp processor license fee as indicated below

  • Include license fee payment and supporting documentation, such as:

    • A copy of your driver's license

    • A copy of background check from the New Jersey State Police (for you and all key participants)

    • Processing, handling, and storage location maps (including name, site address, location IDs, and GPS coordinates)

    • Processor fee (total fee for each product to be processed):

      • Handlers - $450 annual fee

      • Fiber Processor - $450 annual fee

      • Grain Processor -$450 annual fee

      • Floral, Oil, or CBD Processor Extraction- $1,000 annual fee

      • Floral Processor-$1,000 annual fee Hemp Seed Oil Processor- $1,000

      • Product THC Test Fee = $150 per instance

    • Food Safety Permit, if applicable

    • FDA registration, if applicable

    • Signing authority for business entities, if applicable

Mail the completed application, and all required supporting documentation to the mail address listed above.

Note that all information submitted on the application must be accurate, typed, and complete. The NJDA does not accept responsibility for missing information due to formatting or printing errors on the applicants' end. Also, incomplete answers may result in the removal of your application from consideration. Once the NJDA receives your application, the department will review it and conduct an inspection of the proposed cultivation or processing site. If your application is approved, the NJDA will issue a license, which is valid for one year. For more information on obtaining a hemp license in New Jersey, see the NJDA Hemp Program website.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in New Jersey?

The costs of the hemp grower and hemp processor licenses in New Jersey vary depending on the factors such as the size of the property used in the cultivation and the number of products processed. Typical fees for both licenses are detailed below:

  • Hemp Grower License

    • Application fee: $50

    • License fee: $300 + $15 per acre of land used for the cultivation

  • Hemp Processor/Handler Fee

    • Application Fee: $50

    • Handler Fee: $450

    • Hemp Product Processing Fee:

      • Fiber Processor - $450 annual fee

      • Grain Processor - $450 annual fee

      • Floral, Oil, or CBD Processor Extraction - $1,000 annual fee

      • Floral Processor - $1,000 annual fee

      • Hemp Seed Oil Processor- $1,000

Note that all fees stated are due annually at the renewal of each license.

How to Grow Hemp in New Jersey

The first step in growing hemp in New Jersey is to secure a license from the NJDA. After obtaining the license, the following stage is to prepare the ground for planting. Hemp grows best on well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 7.5. A soil test is recommended to detect any nutrient deficits and make any required modifications.

Hemp is cultivated differently from marijuana in several ways, including plant spacing and harvest time. To allow for greater ventilation and avoid disease transmission, hemp plants are often spaced more widely apart than marijuana plants. Hemp may be cultivated from seed or clone, and the planting technique will depend on the equipment available. Planting equipment such as a grain drill can be used for bigger operations, while manual planting can be used for smaller operations.

After planting, hemp requires regular watering and weed control. While pesticides are allowed in New Jersey, the NJDA website does not provide a list of accepted pesticides in the state. You may refer to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Compliance and Enforcement for state pesticide regulations.

The harvesting period for hemp will be determined by the proposed use of the plant. If cultivation is done with the goal of producing fiber, then hemp plants should be harvested before the plants begin to flower. However, if cultivation is done for seed or CBD production, hemp crops should be harvested when the plants are completely developed and the flowers have attained peak CBD levels.

Harvesting may be done manually or by machine, and the crop must be dried and processed. Once processed, hemp may be sold or used to make several items, such as textiles, paper, food, and oil.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in New Jersey?

It is legal in New Jersey to purchase smokable hemp flowers. Residents can buy hemp flowers at local stores and online. Hemp flowers may be purchased in a variety of locations, including smoke shops, CBD businesses, and online retailers.

The state places no restrictions on the amount of hemp flowers that may be bought by residents. Also, the state allows businesses to ship hemp flowers from other states into New Jersey as long as the products contain no more than 0.3% THC.



Hemp vs. THC

Hemp and THC are not the same. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychotropic ingredient present in high amounts in marijuana, whereas hemp is a cannabis plant type with relatively low THC levels. Under federal and state laws, hemp is classified as cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

The sale of hemp products containing more than 0.3% THC is prohibited in New Jersey under the state's hemp statute. This implies that the state prohibits the sale of hemp-derived THC products containing more than 0.3% THC are illegal.

Hemp vs. CBD

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that is low in THC but high in CBD, among other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. CBD, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana plants. CBD can be extracted from hemp to make various products, such as oils, capsules, topicals, and edibles. The sale of hemp-derived CBD products is legal in New Jersey as long as the products contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp Applications

Hemp has a wide range of applications other than medical uses. One of the most well-known applications of hemp is in textile production since the plant's fibers can be spun into long-lasting and environmentally friendly materials. Hemp is also used to make paper since it can be grown and harvested faster than trees and requires less processing to transform into paper pulp.

Aside from textiles and paper, hemp is used to make building materials such as hempcrete, a lightweight alternative to regular concrete. Hemp seeds are also a popular dietary source due to their high protein content and essential fatty acid content. Hemp oil, derived from plant seeds, is used in various items, such as food and skincare products.

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