The 2018 Hemp Farming Act was a godsend for the hemp industry. The legislation classified cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC as hemp and removed it from its list of controlled substances. Dubbed by some as a catalyst for explosive growth, the bill gave farmers in all 50 states leeway to grow the versatile cash crop under regulation.
Six months later in June 2019, the New York Assembly passed the state’s own Hemp Extract Bill. The bill would have allowed licensed retailers to add up to 20mg of CBD per twelve ounces beverage. However, several months later, the bill still languishes on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk, awaiting his approval.
As the New York hemp industry remains in a state of uncertainty, a group of industry insiders is looking to have the bill approved as soon as possible. Jonathan Miller, a lawyer for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable says Governor Cuomo is expected to issue a ‘friendly veto’ of the bill, which will allow it to be reintroduced during the budget process next year. “He likes the bill but is expected to veto it so we can improve it for the next session.”
However, without concrete regulations, the industry quickly filled up with sellers whose products promise untold benefits. A lot of the unregulated products contain different levels of cannabinoids promised on the labels and other contaminants. To ensure consumer safety, the New York State Department of Health and Agriculture stepped in, but in the process, sellers maintaining high product quality have also been affected.
At the moment, CBD can only be sold in the State as a dietary supplement. According to Joy Beckerman, President of the Hemp Industries Association, the organization would like to see three key issues addressed when the hemp bill is reintroduced. First, looser licensing requirements for manufacturers and sellers, capped fees for growers and producers, and lastly, to open up the New York hemp market to growers and processors from other states.
She says that what the organization desires is “better protection for small New York farms and businesses to be able to enter the hemp economy and take advantage of these new opportunities.” According to Karlan Castetter, a New York hemp producer and the CEO of Castetter Sustainability Group, developing a transparent and consistent supply chain and listing the region where the plants are grown is important. “We don’t want imported hemp that’s full of contaminants. All that it takes is a couple of bad products.”
Castetter says that although the June 2019 bill was a little restrictive, it was a step toward ensuring the New York hemp sector isn’t left behind by other states. “We don’t have three or four years. This market is moving very quickly, so we need to get ahead of that now.”
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