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New York Hemp Plan Approved By USDA

New York’s hemp plan was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture at its end-of-year meeting.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced on December 28 that the state’s hemp program had officially received USDA approval. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Hemp Program Plan is now accepting applications, as of January 1, 2022.

Ball said that New York had long pursued hemp as an agricultural product, and that he is optimistic that the new program will propel it forward.

“New York State has been a leader in the hemp industry since the launch of its pilot program, with producers registered to grow industrial hemp on 30,000 acres. Under this new plan, our growers will have stability and consistency in regulations moving forward, with continued guidance and support from the Department,” he said in a press release. “We look forward to continuing to administer this important program, which provides growers with an avenue to diversify crops and tap into new markets.” As of 2021, the state of New York allowed 800 registered cannabis producers to cultivate hemp.

Licensed growers who have previously participated in the state’s hemp program will need to reapply for a new license, as their old one expired on the last day of 2021. All applicants will also need to take part in the FBI Identity History Summary Check within the 60-day period following submission of their applications.

In October 2021, the USDA received the initial draft of New York State Hemp Plan. In his introduction letter, Ball stated that a 2016 hemp crop was first harvested in New York State in more than 80 years. At the time, only 10 growers were allowed to cultivate the plant. “It is clear that hemp production in New York State is here to stay, and we look forward to New York’s farmers realizing the full economic potential of hemp in the years to come,” he explained. “In closing, I am confident the State of New York has the necessary resources in place to administer a compliant hemp production program in New York State.”

There are many changes to be made in the process of applying, growing reporting and record keeping, renewing licenses, inspecting violations, etc. The hemp plan covers all aspects.

New York’s progress has been remarkable in many ways. Mid-December 2021 saw new rules announced by the Office of Cannabis Management for cannabis products. They included an increase of CBD from 75mg down to 100mg as well as an increase of THC from three to five percent. In effect, cannabis-infused foods and drinks are now possible thanks to the removal of the shelf stability requirement by the Cannabis Control Board. “These additional Cannabinoid Hemp Program regulations are the latest step in the evolution of the cannabis industry ecosystem we are building in New York State and I look forward to considering these with my colleagues on the Board at our next meeting,” said Tremaine Wright, Cannabis Control Board Chair. “Ensuring New Yorkers know they are purchasing safe, tested products while providing the industry with the tools to compete and grow is critical to its long-term success.”

New York City’s first day in the new year was also the day that adult-use dispensaries and consumption lounges were no longer allowed. Any cities that didn’t opt-out were automatically opted in. According to Rockefeller Institute of Government “Opt-out tracker” and estimated 655 of 1,518 municipalities opted out for dispensaries, and 751 of 1,518 opted out of consumption sites (although this data is subject to changes).