Pubdate: Mon, 25 Nov 2013
Source: Express-Times, The (PA)
Copyright: 2013 The Express-Times


New Jersey residents are one step closer to being able to grow industrial hemp.

The state Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 
today to advance bill A2415, creating a state license to "plant, 
grow, harvest, possess, process, sell and buy industrial hemp," 
according to the measure.

The hemp permitted to be grown would need to have nearly no THC, the 
active ingredient in its sister plant, marijuana.

"Nobody's going to get high off it," said Assemblyman Parker Space, a 
committee member who backed the bill. "It's going to basically be for 
industrial purposes."

The vote was 4-1, said Kari Osmond, chief of staff for bill sponsor 
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Hunterdon/Mercer. The "no" vote came 
from Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer, a Republican from Ocean County.

Space, a Republican whose 24th District covers part of Warren County, 
said he went into today's hearing with an open mind and backed the 
bill as a way to give farmers a new job-creating crop.

"Basically the way it is now, hemp, you can buy in all different 
forms legally in New Jersey ... but you can't grow it here," he said. 
"So the ones that are buying it for the fabrics -- and there are so 
many different things that they make out of it, from the seeds of it 
to the stems of it -- basically, they're buying it from other 
countries that are raising it and they're importing it into the United States."

The bill bars anyone with a prior criminal conviction from receiving 
an industrial hemp license. It also says no license can be issued 
unless the federal government lifts its ban on industrial hemp or 
"takes affirmative steps towards issuing a permit to industrial hemp 
producers in states with laws similar to this act."

"It was used in colonial times up until the 1930s," said Gusciora, a 
primary sponsor of New Jersey's medical marijuana law, as reported by 
The Star-Ledger, of Newark. "It's one of the most versatile plants. 
You can make clothing out of it. It's used in cooking."

Space, whose family farms in Sussex County, said he is "not 
particularly" interested in growing industrial hemp.

"I'm happy raising hay and corn," he said.
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