NJ Hemp Program Gets USDA Approval for 2020 Start

A year after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production nationwide, the United States Department of Agriculture has approved New Jersey’s proposed hemp growing, processing and selling regulations – including cannabidiol (CBD) – beginning in 2020.

New Jersey is among the first three states and three Native American tribes that the USDA approved hemp regulations for, along with Ohio and Louisiana; as well as Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla and La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes.

New Jersey’s nascent hemp industry is waiting for rules from the federal government. The delay has sidelined growers and forced manufacturers to seek out-of-state suppliers.

Hemp plants. – ERIN DIVER HILLVIEW CBD

“New Jersey has an enormous head start to launch and profit from both oil-based and fibrous hemp,” said Steve Schain, senior attorney at Hoban Law Group in Cherry Hill, who added the state “leapfrogged” over 16 others with more established hemp programs due to how New Jersey’s policy was written.

“Issues exist regarding concurrent federal and state jurisdiction, and Jersey’s regulations do not address product marketing, allowable CBD content in consumables, and critical distinctions between CBD and broad and full spectrum oil-derived products,” Schain said. “While a more rigorous set of regulations challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s often murky authority would have been insightful, Jersey’s economic rules carry the day and give the Garden State a much needed head start.”

Following the USDA’s publishing of its interim final rules for domestic hemp production on Oct. 31, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture created its Hemp Farming Rules Act, which established the state’s industrial hemp program administered by NJDA’s Division of Plant Industry.

NJDA is required to provide pre-planting, planting and pre-harvest reports to the USDA, as well as one annual production report listing hemp crop acreage. NJDA is also required to provide the USDA with monthly reports updating hemp producers’ license status and providing non-compliant hemp violations; and annual reports regarding total grown and disposed hemp acreage to ensure that accurate legal land descriptions and hemp quantities are maintained.

Hemp farmers will pay NJDA $300 annually plus $15 per acre. Handlers pay $450 annually. Processors’ fees depend on what they process: $450 for those who process grain; $1,000 for those who process CBD; or $1450 for those who process both.

Farmers who handle and process their own hemp are able to do so sans additional fees, but are required to pay applicable fees when handling or processing someone else’s hemp. Additionally, hemp must be tested 15 days prior to harvest by an NJDA inspector or Drug Enforcement Agency-registered third-party lab.

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