The “Garden State” indeed – New Jersey’s Senate gave two big green thumbs up Monday passing Senate Bill 3110, a forward thinking piece of legislation aimed at legalizing industrial hemp production. With a companion Bill 2415 already successfully navigating through two committees, there is little to be done except sit and wait for the full Assembly to cast their vote – hopefully by the end of this week. Should these two Hemp Bills make it through the Assembly intact, they would then need the signature of New Jersey’s embattled Gov., Chris Christie.
Fact: from the founding of our country until 1937, Hemp was a major American crop and textiles made from it were in high demand. Despite its storied history, the American textile Museum, the Smithsonian Institute, and most American history books contain no mention of the hemp plant. The government’s war on drugs has created an atmosphere of self-censorship where speaking of the hemp plant in a positive manner was considered extremely bad form politically.
Under New Jersey’s proposed Hemp Bills, those within the state looking to stimulate the New Jersey’s economy by cultivating industrial hemp would need to seek authorization through a licensing process, issued by the States Secretary of Agriculture.
Per a government-backed report; “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity,” the US imports approximately $500 million worth of hemp from other countries – chiefly Canada and China – while remaining illegal to grow on American soil.
There are few other natural resource that offers the potential of hemp. Hemp is capable of producing an abundance of paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink. And fuel. Yet, unlike other crops, hemp can flourish on inhospitable land with little to no water or fertilizer requirements, no pesticides and no herbicides. The Hemp plant has an enormous potential to become a major natural resource for the world that can benefit both the U.S. economy and the environment.