What’s standing in the way of Jersey’s hemp industry?

Inside a greenhouse in Lincoln Park New Jersey, basil production is in full swing. But third generation farmer Ken Vande Vrede wants to move the crop to another facility so he can use this space to grow hemp –if it’s legalized in the state.

THC is the part of the plant that can get you high. Because hemp only contains a very small amount of THC, you can’t get the same effect. But hemp also contains CBD, which people use in products like oils or creams for relaxation and soothing.

In December 2018 when the federal Farm Bill was passed, hemp was taken off the controlled substances list. Essentially legalizing the crop. However, growing hemp in New Jersey is still illegal.

State Sen. Steve Oroho sponsored a bill to create a program allowing the cultivation, processing and distribution of hemp in the state. The bill passed both houses in November 2018 but still awaits the governor’s signature.

But even if Murphy signs the bill, New Jersey will have to wait for USDA approval before the state Department of Agriculture can issue licenses.

It does not anticipate USDA approval until the fall, cutting it tight for the outdoor season.