Watch as Farmers Grow

West Amwell Township Prohibits Traditional Agricultural Practices to cultivate legal crop

September 20th, 2022 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs

Regarding Agricultural Opportunity in our Town, and the current prohibition against it.

Under the name “NJ Grow Free llc” my wife and I and another farmer shared our business plan with the Township Committee asking “municipal approval” to apply for a NJ State license, to grow cannabis, using our existing, traditional production practices, augmented with State Law security guidelines and monitoring requirements, this February.

The State of NJ allows Cannabis to be grown by Traditional Farmers, in the Sun, both in greenhouses and in the open air. The State law provides guidance for security, consistent with the Indoor growing that West Amwell Twp currently allows.

The Township Committee ignored us, without offering any justification why a Town whose Master Plan says Agriculture is important, and Cannabis is an Agricultural Crop would be prohibited, while energy intensive indoor production is allowed.

I shared the Master Plan language and page references, for those unaware that our Master Plan clearly states it’s support for Cannabis and Agriculture, at the April 6, 2022 Township Committee meeting, please see the link below.

Township Committee minutes 4/6/22

Members of the committee may not be interested in the new opportunity that legal cannabis cultivation offers, but you should appreciate the significance of the potential to earn more money per unit of crop grown.  Everyone speaks of the decline of agricultural viability, and this is the first obvious potential to actually offer new markets and earning potential.

Right now the Cannabis ordinance is a mess, it contradicts our master plan and promotes energy sucking indoor cultivation as the only way forward.  As a long term, WAT farmer, I need to speak up, that the opportunity for a farmer like me to benefit from this new niche market, is real, and should be actively supported, not ignored.

We would grow one or possibly two successions, on a small scale, within a State Licensed, approved, secured alarmed fenced area, with minimal smell, due to the diffuse nature of natural production, outdoors, using sun for energy.

The crop would be harvested and sold with as little as two months of flowering, so only a brief time would there be smell, or risk of theft.  

All these factors are very different from the indoor, constant intensive yearround production, and excluding traditional farmers because folks are afraid of the unknown is just hurtful to farmers who are trying to promote Agricultural Viability.

The Ag community should know, this Cannabis Ordinance contradicts our master plan, is a bad ordinance, involving a quasi legitimate review process and excludes farmers from planting a legal crop, for no justifiable reason.

The Ordinance can be fixed by replacing the current prohibition of Outdoor Cultivation with, “Outdoor and greenhouse cultivation of Cannabis is permitted following the Guidance of NJ State Law.”

Also to ditch the unfunded, ill advised, extraneous local review process, relying instead on NJ State law, and the simple process of Municipal approval according to an improved Ordinance, and NJ State Licensing and Regulation.

Thanks for your attention to this important opportunity for Traditional Agriculture.  I encourage the committee to seek justification of the current prohibition against Traditional Agricultural Viability, see for yourself if this Cannabis Ordinance “serves to promote Agriculture as a positive contributor to West Amwell’s  economy…”

I can be available, as a long term resident and established farmer of West Amwell, to represent the relevance of this topic, at your convenience.

Mike Rassweiler

NJ Grow Free llc

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