New Jersey on Friday published regulations governing its new hemp farming program, issued applications for aspiring cultivators and processors, and posted a list of hemp varieties that may not be grown in the Garden State.
Anyone able to pass a criminal background check will be eligible to grow or process hemp in the state.
But unlike cultivating corn, tomatoes, or blueberries, the privilege will come at a cost. The state will exact a minimum of $365 in annual fees to grow an acre or less of hemp. Processors of hemp fiber or grain will need to pony up a minimum of $450 in permit fees. The annual permit to render the plant into oil or CBD will run $1,000.
Permit costs will be compounded if a business wants to produce more than one type of product. A company processing grain and CBD will be charged $1,450 a year — $450 for the right to produce grain and $1,000 to extract CBD.
“That does seem high, but hemp is pretty new to New Jersey,” said Erica McBride Stark, executive director of the National Hemp Association. “But to put it in context, when Pennsylvania began its hemp program, permits started at $3,000. The price fell this year to $150.”
The number of hemp permits New Jersey issues will not be capped, according to Jeff Wolfe, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
For guidance in launching its program, the Garden State has looked to Kentucky, which issued permits last year to grow hemp on 42,000 acres.
New Jersey has adopted Kentucky’s list of eight banned hemp varieties. It also warned that 42 strains may be “varieties of concern” because of the likelihood they will produce too much THC. THC is the intoxicating compound found in hemp’s close cousin, marijuana.
Any hemp plant that produces more than 0.3% of the intoxicating compound is said to “test hot” and may have to be destroyed. If a farmer inadvertently produces an entire field of hot product, the farmer will lose the entire crop and suffer an enormous loss.
“We are starting to see more states produce guidelines on hemp varieties,” Stark said. “It’s in the farmer’s best interest. Pennsylvania released a ban list for the first time, as well. That’s to give farmers some protection from planting things that are pretty certain to come back hot.”