A New Cash Crop? Assembly Panel Approves Bill To Allow Growing Hemp In N.J.

NEW JERSEY:  George Washington, who famously crossed the Delaware to Trenton, grew hemp on his estate in Virginia. Now a Trenton lawmaker wants to follow his example and legalize growing the plant in New Jersey.

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today voted 3-1 to approve a bill (A2415) that would create an industrial hemp license to regulate the “planting, growing, harvesting, possessing, processing, selling and buying” of the crop.

“It was used in colonial times up until the 1930s,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), the bill’s sponsor. “It’s one of the most versatile plants. You can make clothing out of it. It’s used in cooking.”

There is a catch to the bill, however. Federal law bans growing hemp, which is a type of cannabis, and no licenses would be issued until the federal government legalizes it. It is legal to buy and sell hemp, but Michael Chazukow, owner of the store Hemp Heaven in Morris Plains, told the committee that retailers have to get the raw materials from other countries.

“There’s absolutely no risk in the creation of the industrial-domestic hemp market,” Chazukow said.