1/6/20 By DAN ULLOA
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved New Jersey’s hemp farming program.
One of the biggest things that they will do to oversee hemp farming is to ensure than no hemp with more than .3 percent THC becomes available to the public. This can be somewhat difficult to do. If the hemp has more than .3 percent than it must be destroyed. THC is the chemical that gets an individual to feel high after consuming cannabis.
The program had to be approved by the USDA prior to the formal hemp industry growing. New Jersey received one of the first state approvals in the country from the USDA, along with Ohio and Louisiana.
In order to grow hemp, farmers must receive licenses to do so from the state. There will be no limits on the number of licenses that can be allotted.
“The only thing they have to do is register their plots, their fields or their indoors facilities,” said NJ Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher “We have to know what they are growing and where. But there’s no limit.”
Wide-spread hemp growing was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Every state that wished to have hemp grown within its borders needs to submit a plan to the USDA on hemp growing.
In 2019, farmers grew 500,000 acres of hemp versus only 112,000 acres in 2018.
Previously, New Jersey had an industrial hemp program that restricted its cultivation solely for the purpose of research under the 2014 Farm Bill. New Jersey’s hemp farming did not expand much in 2019 and thus remains quite small compared to other states that jumped on the hemp bandwagon.
Because hemp is such a nascent industry, there is an insufficient amount of hemp processing facilities in the United States to turn raw hemp into valued products. This might become a serious issue if farmers grow hemp they can’t sell.
Hemp has many uses in textiles, fibers like rope, paper, building materials, oils, and dietary supplements, and food, among others It also has a great deal of bipartisan support since socially conservative farmers are greatly in favor of it. Moreover, it grows well in Kentucky, home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Thus, McConnell is a great advocate of hemp, while otherwise opposed to cannabis reform.
The Nuances of Hemp Farming
The distinction between hemp that is grown and cannabis that is smoked to get high to address the issues of living in modern society is very fine since they are both really cannabis, the proper Latin name for the plant. They’re really the same plant, though, over the course of many generations, they have been bred to look slightly different. Hemp is said to be more related to Indicas than Sativas.
Prior to being outlawed as part of the War on Drugs, hemp cultivation and processing were big business in the United States. George Washington reportedly grew hemp as it was a common cash crop at the time. Unfortunately, there is no record of him nor any other Founding Father enjoying the pleasure of smoking it.
At one point in the United Kingdom, farmers were required to grow hemp so that it could be used to make ropes for rigging the ships of the Royal Navy.