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New Jersey Hemp Legislation - Updates and How You Can Help!

Posted by Mike Chaz on Friday, January 10, 2014

        The prohibition of industrial hemp is the most obvious defect of our nation’s failed cannabis policy. It is impossible to use hemp as a drug.  Now that science has proven this fact, our legislature recognizes that prohibiting hemp production under drug laws does not and never did reduce drug use or cultivation.  Representatives still have very different ideas about what the new approach on cannabis should be concerning marijuana, but prohibitionists and activists both agree that we need a new approach and that the repatriation of the hemp market is the obvious first step.

Bill Proposal

        The NJ Legislature introduced A2415, S3110, and AR54.  The first two are identical bills establishing an industrial hemp license. AR54 is a resolution that urges the federal government to exclude hemp from the definition of “marihuana”.

        You can view the language of the bill and resolution here:

        http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A2500/2415_I1.PDF

        http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/AR/54_I1.PDF

 

Bill History

        We don’t have industrial hemp in NJ yet.  A2415 passed the Assembly Agricultural and Natural Resources committee with 4 yes, 1 no, 0 abstaining votes on November 25th.  On December 12th the bill passed the Assembly Appropriations committee without any opposition by a vote of 8-0-1.

        The companion bill to A2415, Senate bill S3110 was introduced by Senator Scutari on December 16th and on January 9th, and the Senate Economic Growth Committee voted 4-0-1.

            Information on who voted and how can be found here (Search for bill # A2415 or S3110 and see committee vote roll call): http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Default.asp

Bill process

        Both bills have passed the required committees. S3110 is scheduled for a Senate vote next week.  Once passed, the bill goes to the Assembly for a full floor vote.  After passing the legislature, the bill would need the approval of the governor to become law.

 How you can help

        These final votes are scheduled for this coming week.  So far this bill has received little opposition but it is still very helpful to call our government and tell them you support what they are doing. Our representatives now more than ever welcome encouragement from constituents! 

Who to contact

        Contact your respective Senator and Assembly members and ask them to support S3110/A2415.  Your representatives contact information can be found here:

        http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp

       You may also want to thank the main sponsors of the bill.  Senator Scutari is the main Senate sponsor and Assemblyman Gusciora ushered the bill throught the Assembly.  Call and thank them for sponsoring the bill!   

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D)      
      District Office: (908) 587-0404

Assemblyman Reed  Gusciora (D)       
      District Office: (609) 292-0500

Odds of Success 

        Federal law still prohibits hemp production and NJ license will not be issued without federal approval. Thankfully, the latest version of the Federal Farm Bill did include a provision allowing industrial hemp research. Although that bill did not pass through the entire congress, it did pass the Republican controlled House of Representatives and its re-introduction is expected this month.  The cumulative tally of NJ committee votes so far is 16 yes, 1 no, and 2 abstentions.  This is a very good sign and we expect the NJ industrial hemp bill to pass through the legislature this week.  Federal and state proposals in actually could lead to the beginning of legal hemp farming in NJ very soon.  

        There is one wild card…Chris Christie.  Governor Christie’s position on hemp is not on record.  It is unclear if this bill will be signed into law by the Governor or if he will use a “pocket veto.”  During its regular session, the governor has 60 days to veto a bill or it automatically becomes law.  But during the lame duck session, if the governor does not sign a bill it is automatically considered a veto. Like he put it in his pocket and forgot about it…the “pocket veto”.

        Christie’s record on cannabis issues is dubious.  He referred to an amendment to the states medical marijuana program as “groupthink from the Legislature.”  Would he say the same for industrial hemp?  Does he recognize that it is impossible to get high by smoking or ingesting industrial hemp? Do federal actions suggest industrial hemp will soon no longer be federally banned? Does that matter to Chris Christie? 

        To find the answers, we need pass the industrial hemp bill and get it on the Governor’s desk. Please call your state senators. Thank you. 

Michael Chazukow

Outreach Director - NORML NJ

Owner - Hemp Heaven LLC

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