Just last week, New York funded a $3.2 million hemp processing plant in the city of Binghamton. This investment is the first of its kind to be endorsed by a state official. 34 other states have legalized hemp farming and processing, but those projects are funded by the farmers themselves. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is the first to have the state fund its own research and development of industrial hemp.
This fund comes from the $10 million grant Governor Cuomo announced last year. The grant would cover academic and economic research and growth of industrial hemp, as well as special funding to cover the costs of new construction and equipment needed to sustain the industry. The state has since licensed 2,000 acres for cultivation with 21 licensed growers farming industrial hemp.
"Industrial hemp has the potential to become an economic engine not just in New York, but across the country,” the governor announced on his website. And the Empire State is in a unique position to lead the way. With hemp being used in over 25,000 products and pulling in almost $700 million annually in the United States alone, New York is wise to forgo the prohibition mindset and invest in a budding industry.
This choice puts New York ahead of the game, and it’s going to make a world of difference as the cannabis industry continues to expand as well. It sometimes seems as if the hemp and cannabis industries have already merged. Because processing industrial hemp in most states includes the extraction of CBD oil. New York is one of those states.
So what are other states doing with industrial hemp?
For starters, some states don’t even regulate the THC levels of their crop, and even more harvest hemp specifically for CBD extraction. North Carolina and Vermont both harvest industrial hemp for CBD extraction, bringing in $30 and $100 per pound respectively. But North Dakota, for example, limits its industrial hemp production to seeds and seed oil for a niche food market at 50 cents per pound.
With those kinds of trends, it seems that only states willing to grow hemp for CBD extraction – or some other form of commercial use – are going to see any monetary growth. New York’s move toward state-funded research and development encourages other states to really start considering the true commercial value of hemp and cannabis. It inspired Kentucky to invest in their own industrial hemp pilot programs, and the state accepted applications from farmers for the 2018 growing season, all with the intentions of working their way toward commercialization.
In New York, this is the first time the state is footing the bill for industrial hemp farming, research, and extraction. It sets a precedent for developing more state-funded research programs in both the hemp and the cannabis industries across the country. By funding their own research, New York has the opportunity to jump ahead of the industries in these other states and uncover the commercial potential of hemp’s medicinal and manufacturing properties.
[photo: flickr: Mishimoto]