New Jersey is now among the first three states to have its Hemp Program approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (the “USDA”). The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production nationwide by removing hemp and its derivatives, such as CBD, from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp.

Now that New Jersey’s Hemp Program is approved, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (the “NJDA”) can accept licensing applications for review and approval. Leading the way in an ever growing national hemp industry, New Jersey’s Hemp Program allows individuals and businesses to legally engage in the following activities:

Hemp Producer: any person or business entity authorized by NJDA to cultivate, process, or handle hemp in the State.

Farmers: any person who cultivates hemp.

Handlers: any person who means to possess or store a hemp plant on premises owned, operated, or controlled by a hemp producer for any period of time or in a vehicle for any period of time other than during the actual transport. Examples of “handlers” include, but are not limited to: seed cleaners, analytical labs, traders, harvesting entities, brokers and other service providers. “Handle” does not mean possession or storage of finished hemp products.

Processors: include, but are not limited to, entities acquiring raw hemp materials and processing them into products.

In order to participate in New Jersey’s Hemp Program, prospective farmers, handlers, and/or processors must submit an application to NJDA with the appropriate fees:

2020 New Jersey Hemp Program Fees

Application Fee $50
Hemp Farmers $300 annually plus $15 per acre
Hemp Handlers $450 annually
Hemp Grain Processors $450 annually
Hemp CBD Processors $1,000 annually
Hemp Grain and CBD Processors $1,450 annually

NJDA will only accept and review applications that are complete, accurate, and legible. Incomplete answers may result in the application’s removal from consideration. Please also keep in mind that all “key participants” must undergo a New Jersey State Police background check before an application can be approved.

Even though New Jersey’s Hemp Program is at the forefront of the national hemp industry, New Jersey has placed reasonable restrictions on hemp farmers, handlers, and processors, which include:

NJDA requires a site modification fee any time a growing site is altered or added to an existing license so NJDA can submit accurate records to keep the USDA apprised of the status of all hemp producers and awards of all land being used to produce hemp (N.J.A.C. 2:25-2.2);

NJDA prohibits public access to hemp, such as hemp mazes or any other recreational activity (N.J.A.C. 2:25-2.2);

NJDA may prohibit any hemp, seeds, plantlets or propagules for any reason, i.e. NJDA may ban a particular strain or source for hemp if it is unreliable with regards to THC content (N.J.A.C. 2:25-3.2).

This is an exciting time to join the growing billion dollar hemp industry. Last year alone, 500,000 acres of hemp were planted nationally. The hemp industry is full of new economic opportunities for industry participants and entrants as hemp cultivation and processing pave the way for new environmentally friendly products and markets.

To learn more about the application process or if you are interested in submitting an application to farm, handle, or process hemp in New Jersey, please contact Gene Markin, Esq. at (609) 895-7248 or