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New York May Soon Grow Industrial Hemp

New York Farmers may be soon be able to legally grow Industrial Hemp for the first time in decades as early as this coming spring.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has proposed new regulations that would allow research of industrial hemp that was permitted as part of the 2014 US Farm Bill (§7606); the legislation that would create New York’s pilot program was sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tom O’Mara (A9140/S7047).

The proposed regulations would govern experimental growing of hemp. Industrial hemp, as it is also known, has little of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component known to produce a high, yet the hemp plant is seen as having enormous potential.

“I’m glad these revisions take into consideration the concerns and suggestions Senator O’Mara and I put forward, along with farmers and businesses across the state,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo (D-Endwell). “New York will begin conducting important research so that farmers can hit the ground running when full-scale production is permitted. This lucrative crop not only provides a new opportunity for famers, but also creates the potential for new manufacturing and niche markets across the state.”

More than a year after the passage of the bill, state regulators have released proposed rules to let Cornell University and other colleges grow hemp. Hemp has edible and oil-producing seeds, and its fibrous bark and internal core can be used as a building material. Parts of the plant are used in making plastics, paper, insulation, animal bedding and cosmetics, eaten and burned as biomass fuel. It also provides a chemical seen as having medical potential.

“Industrial hemp has many possible uses in today’s emerging bio-economy, from the traditional textiles, fuel, animal feed ingredients, to consumer products. It’s clear that this is a plant variety that could do well in New York’s climate, and offer another good diversification option,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.

“I’m very pleased that the regulations have been revised, as it provides clarity to Cornell University’s stellar plant sciences faculty about the permit process, security, and reporting structure. Our faculty look forward to answering the critical questions farmers will have in exploring this new crop, from varietal selection to disease and pest management,” said Dean Boor.

The hemp law comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is moving forward with legalizing medical marijuana in New York.

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