Curved Papers & Empire State NORML Kick Off ‘Do The Right Thing, New York’ PSA Campaign

NEW YORK: This week Curved Papers and the New York State Chapters of NORML kicked off Do The Right Thing, New York, a PSA marketing campaign designed to raise awareness and support  for The Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA), one of two competing bills to legalize adult use in what will be the sixteenth or seventeenth state to do so.

As part of the campaign, Curved Papers produced a 7-page primer called “Seven Points About Legalization In New York State 2021,” which explains with pictures, why the MRTA is vastly preferable for cannabis community members, the consumer, the industry and the general public.

“Not only does the MRTA better address core issues of concern to the citizenry across New York State, equity, justice, home grow and sustainability,” Michael O’Malley, Curved Papers Founder told MJNews, “the CRTA is actually a poor solution, and moves all these issues in the wrong direction, or perpetuates problems the MRTA solves.”

Curved Papers is a licensee of NORML, and supports NORML with a royalty on its NORML Curved Papers, made from 100% organic hemp.

Curved Papers was granted the first Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the first NYC NORML Awards in 2019 and takes that honor seriously. A New York company founded by a guy from Brooklyn, the time is now for our home state.

Curved Papers and MJBA share the concept of “cannafest destiny,” the green wave of legalization moving from the West to the East which is finally really crashing on our New York shores. Time to do the right thing, New York!

If you’re a New Yorker, please use this convenient tool to reach out to your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly, and to the Governor, and let them know you support equity, justice, home grow and sustainability. Pass the MRTA now!

DTRTNY will be sharing this link during live online events for the next four Mondays! This Monday join a WATCH PARTY ACTION, featuring “Grass Is Greener,” the seminal film by Fab Five Freddie, a New Yorker if there ever was one.

Governor Cuomo Announces 30-Day Amendments to Legislation Establishing Comprehensive Adult-Use Cannabis Program in New York

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced 30-day amendments to the Governor’s proposal to establish a comprehensive adult-use cannabis program in New York. Specifically, these amendments will detail how the $100 Million in Social Equity funding will be allocated, enable the use of delivery services, and refine which criminal charges will be enforced as it relates to the improper sale of cannabis to further reduce the impact on communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.

“As we work to reimagine, rebuild and reopen New York, we’re taking every opportunity to address and correct decades of institutional wrongs to build back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “We know that you cannot overcome a problem without first admitting there is one. Our comprehensive approach to legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provides the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also enables us to directly support the communities most impacted by the war on drugs by creating equity and jobs at every level, in every community in our great state.”

Allocation of $100 Million Cannabis Social Equity Fund

Social and economic equity are the bedrock of Governor Cuomo’s proposal to legalize cannabis for adult-use and as part of that, the Governor’s proposal includes a $100 million dollar fund to help revitalize communities that have been most harmed by the war on drugs.

Through this fund, qualified community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments would apply for funding to support a number of different community revitalization efforts, including, but not limited to:

  • Job placement and skills services,
  • Adult education,
  • Mental health treatment,
  • Substance use disorder treatment,
  • Housing,
  • Financial literacy,
  • Community banking,
  • Nutrition services,
  • Services to address adverse childhood experiences,
  • Afterschool and child care services, system navigation services,
  • Legal services to address barriers to reentry, and
  • Linkages to medical care, women’s health services and other community-based supportive services

The grants from this program may also be used to further support the social and economic equity program.

Under the amended proposal, the Department of State would allocate the funding, through grants administered by Empire State Development Corporation, in collaboration with the departments of Labor and Health, as well as with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and the offices of Addiction Services and Supports and Children and Family Services. Final allocations and administration of funding would also be contingent upon approval from the Division of the Budget.

Enabling the Use of Delivery Services

The legalization of cannabis is expected to play an important role in helping rebuild New York’s economy following the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, legalization is projected to create more than 60,000 new jobs, and spur $3.5 billion in economic activity while generating an estimated $350 million in tax revenue once fully implemented.

Cannabis legalization also has the potential to have a significant economic benefit on distressed areas in New York, providing employment opportunities for all levels of the workforce. As social and economic equity are the bedrock of Governor Cuomo’s proposal, delivery services offer a low-cost entry point into the industry, particularly in communities which have been especially impacted by the war on drugs.

Recognizing this, the Governor is amending his proposal to allow for the permitting of delivery services as a way to open up access to this new industry even further so more New Yorkers can participate as it grows. As part of this, local governments would have the opportunity to opt out from delivery services occurring within their jurisdiction.

Criminality of Improper Sales

When establishing a new product market as the Governor’s proposal does, there will inevitably be attempts by bad actors to skirt rules and commit fraud for their own financial gain. This makes it critically important to ensure that penalties are carefully calibrated to ensure that all those who wish to participate in this new market, are operating on the same level playing field.

Cannabis, however, adds another complicating factor to this dynamic – years of outdated policies stemming from the War on Drugs have disproportionately impacted communities of color. Already, New York has taken steps to decriminalize cannabis and as this new market is realized, and it’s critical that criminal penalties are thoughtfully assigned, as to ensure that the progress which has already been made, is not inadvertently reversed.

As such, under the Governor’s amended proposal, specific penalties will be reduced as follows:

  • Criminal sale in the third degree (sale to under 21 year old) will be made a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal sale in the second degree (sale of over 16 ounces or 80 grams of concentrate) will be made a class E felony
  • Criminal sale in the first degree (sale of over 64 ounces or 320 grams of concentrate) will be made a class D felony

The Governor’s proposal builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the Governor’s proposal reflects national standards and emerging best practices to promote responsible use, limiting the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishing stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products. Cannabis regulation also offers the opportunity to invest in research and direct resources to communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Kerri Accardi Is On A Mission To Educate The World About Cannabis

NEW YORK: Kerri Accardi wants to educate the world about cannabis. She’s been on a personal and professional mission since 2014, when a close relative passed away after an agonizing battle with cancer, suffering the brutal effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation — a battle Accardi believes might have been won had legal cannabis been available.

Her mission to the Staten Island, NY native to the canna-friendly West Coast right at the time when legalization movement was gaining momentum, where she connected with the advocates, growers, caregivers and community leaders who were at the center of California, Oregon and Washington’s quasi-legal medical marijuana movement.

With an activist’s eye and a passion for the plant, Accardi and her team at 420MEDIA have now created A New Cannabis Channel (ANewCannabisChannel.com), an omni-channel media play debuting April 20, 2021 (4/20).  Initial programming will include three original series: “5th Quarter” hosted by NFL Super Bowl Champion and cannabis activist Marvin Washington; “Nurse Talk” hosted by Nurse Heather Manus Sobel, founder of the Cannabis Nurses Network; and “Faces of Cannabis” intimate conversations with cannabis industry thought leaders, and will be available on ROKU, Amazon Fire Stick, Android, and iOS.

 

An ad-supported platform, A New Cannabis Channel is offering permanent commercial placement with integrated marketing, in-video shopping, social media and PR packages for the three inaugural series.

 

Listen in as MJNews founder David Rheins and Kerri Accardi catch up in this MJChannelOne Exclusive Interview:

NY Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal To Legalize And Create An Equitable Adult-Use Cannabis Program As Part Of The 2021 State Of The State

Proposal to Create the new Office of Cannabis Management to Regulate State Medical and Adult-use Cannabis and Cannabinoid Hemp Programs

Equitable Market Structure to Invest in Individuals and Communities Disproportionately Impacted by Prohibition

NEW YORK: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under the Governor’s proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

“Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct longstanding wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

The Governor’s proposal builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the proposal reflects national standards and emerging best practices to promote responsible use, limiting the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishing stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products. Cannabis regulation also offers the opportunity to invest in research and direct resources to communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

The Vagina Marijuanalogues Third Remix Returns December 19th

By Michael O’Malley
Founder & CEO Curved Papers

NEW YORK: At Curved Papers we express our values by sponsoring artists and activists here locally in New York, and around the country. Le Haute Spa LLC is an innovative, Black female cannabis brand out of Brooklyn, designed to showcase quality WOC cannabis brands. According to Founder Shana Campbell, “The innovation aims to address the stigmas of marijuana and mental health in the world today, in line with the founder’s goal of helping more people harness the benefits of cannabis.”

 

The Vagina Marijuanalogues is a signature event in its third year, created by Le Haute Spa, which aims to empower women and teach them about the relationship between womb wellness and cannabis consumption. A 2017 consumer report by New Frontier Data revealed that women are much more likely than men to use marijuana for its health and wellness-related properties. In fact, women also use marijuana to help relieve gynecological issues and improve sexual health, according to a study in the journal Sexual Medicine. Shana says “Le Haute Spa is filling that gap in the market that excludes women as the center of integral conversation regarding conscious cannabis consumption.” Curved Papers was a sponsor of The Vagina Marijuanalogues last year and it was a great success. We’re so pleased help build upon the tradition with the virtual version this year.

This year we’ve joined with friends and local industry sponsors Happy Munkey and Lock and Key Remedies and others to support the third presentation of The Vagina Marijuanalogues. The “Third Remix” will include cannabis industry experts, interactive breakout sessions, a lingerie fashion show, a holiday marketplace, virtual swag bags, Vagina Steam offer, prizes/giveaways and more! You can use promo code CURVEDPAPERS to get a discount on your ticket!

There was a very funny comedy in New York many years ago called The Marijuana-logues, a marijuana take on The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler by three guys. The Vagina Marijuanalogues are entertaining, but not comedy! It’s a wellness centered experience for women and will include Vannessa Summers, Samantha Martins, Tamara Anderson and a Cannabis and Sexuality Panel. Through intimate and curated spa experiences and pop up events, Le Haute Spa and these experts create a safe and relaxing space for their clients.

Get a taste of the conversation tomorrow on “Easy To Roll,” our Sunday School for Rolling Joints. See it on our Facebook page at 4:20pm EST as always. The Vagina Marijuanalogues is Saturday, December 19th at 4pm EST.

Churved Chanukah Chontest Chickoff!

Buy a Double Four Pack for the Festival of Lighting Up!

By Michael O’Malley

While you’re buying your gifts online this holiday season, please stop by curvedpapers.com and try a festive double four pack with our three new styles, RICE, RICE KING and HEMP KING paired with Curved® Papers and our 100% organic hemp NORML® Curved Papers for less than $10.

Curved® Papers make great stocking stuffers, and favorites in holiday gift guides every year. Each purchase with coupon code Churved Chanukah makes you eligible to win one of the new Curved Papers t-shirts and a whole box of Curved Papers, like they have in the store.

I always got a kick out of Chanukah. Though I am of Irish decent, I grew up in New York, and knew a lot of ethnic kids from immigrant families like myself in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. My first encounter with Jewish people came in the form of my family’s piano teacher, Mrs. Levy. She was so beautiful and played the piano beautifully, and was a great teacher.

It was the Sixties and all kinds of radical change was going on. The Pope came to New York on Yom Kippur. My sister as born that day. My father gave her a Jewish name, Miriam. It was part of what they called the Ecumenical Movement, and Vatican II. In the Catholic Church, they had the Priest facing the congregation, and said The Mass in English and sang folk songs. It only got weirder in the Seventies.

When we moved out of Brooklyn, my best friend was a guy named Ward. Turns out he’s half Jewish. Long story.

When I went to MIT, I started school on my 18th birthday, and in the first week, I was given the assignment to make up and solve what’s called a Fermi problem, in essence, figuring something out precisely using reason rather than measuring or counting. I thought of this problem, how many of the student at MIT are Jewish? There were not that many Irish kids. I was living with a lot of Jewish kids, and I became close to them, the Italian kids, the few Black kids and the other Irish kids. The Protestant kids, I had not been around as much, and they were different. There is such a tight relationship between Boston and New York. I could think of a million reasons why there would be this number of Jewish students or that number. My answer to the problem was very accurate in the end and I got my first good mark at ‘The Tute.’

I started smoking weed with a Jewish friend in the dorm during the holidays freshman year.

I lived up there a long time and during that time my sisters married guys from Jewish families. Someone asked my nephew what religion he was, and he said, “regular.”

When I moved home to New York again, I had a company called Kinetic Designs in Manhattan that did animations from CAD data, mainly for architects. We did jobs for all these great architects in the city, and then wound up doing it for all kinds of clients, including The Rolling Stones and other amazing people. I had a Guy named Guy working for me. He was from Israel. He was the same age as my brother James. They both had two sons during that time, and named them Aidan and Liam. Along with Michael, those are some old names that have appeared in both cultures for a long time. It was funny. Israel is still a leading marijuana country.

Running Curved Papers and sponsoring MJBA nationally with David Rheins, I have always enjoyed tagging along on his voyage year after year with the Jewish faith. He’s almost a New Yorker himself, after all. I guess 25 years at Rolling Stone and Spin should count for something. He’s up there on my lifelong list of favorite Jews, along with fellow left-handed, basketball-playing white guy and fellow Brooklynite, Bernie Sanders.

Michael O’Malley and Stu Zakim 2018 NYC Cannabis Parade

Let’s not forget real New Yorkers like Stu Zakim and Steve Bloom. Stu Zakim, New Jersey? Are you kidding me?

I digress, but I hope you’ll dash over to CurvedPapers.com/ChurvedChanukah and pick up a double four pack. All double four pack purchases through Christmas are qualified for the Grand Prize Drawing on Boxing Day, December 26th, also known as St. Stephens’s Day. Prizes will be awarded live on Zoom, and Curved Papers FB page, on Wednesday, December 28th, 2020 at 4:20pm EST, the third day of Kwanzaa. Be there or be square.

Enjoy the coming joint rolling season: Happy Hanukkah. Happy Holidaze 2020 to one and all!

And a happy New Year! There. I said it. Not too early. 2021 is gonna be a good year. But let’s do enjoy Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwaanza and all the vital festive traditions left in our crazy 2020 in the meantime.

Governor Cuomo Announces Proposed Regulations For Cannabinoid Hemp Products

Department of Health’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program Will License Processors and Retailers and Set Quality Control Standards

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Department of Health has filed proposed regulations to regulate cannabinoid hemp products in New York State. In accordance with legislation signed earlier this year by the Governor, the Department is creating a Cannabinoid Hemp Program. The Program will license both cannabinoid hemp processors and retailers and set quality control standards that all cannabinoid hemp products must meet.

“These regulations are the next step toward regulating the growing hemp industry in New York in a way that protects consumers and helps ensure the industry’s long-term viability,” said Governor Cuomo. “Establishing the State’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program to regulate production and sale of hemp and hemp extract will help protect both consumers and farmers.”

The Cannabinoid Hemp Program will organize and legitimize the cannabinoid market in New York State by creating a licensing framework for cannabinoid hemp processors and retailers, and by establishing basic manufacturing, packaging and labeling and laboratory testing standards. Currently, applications for cannabinoid hemp processing and retailing licenses are under development, and NYSDOH intends to make them available in early 2021.

In 2015, the Governor launched the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, supporting farmers and further boosting economic development in upstate New York. Since then, New York’s hemp program has expanded significantly, making New York one of the leading hemp producing states in the country, with more than 700 farmers and 100 manufacturers of hemp products. Hemp is a sustainable, carbon-sequestering crop that is capable of being transformed into hundreds of products including textiles, furniture, fuel, food, construction materials and personal care items.

Some hemp products that have been growing in popularity include cannabinoid hemp products such as Cannabidiol, or CBD, which can be found online or in retail stores throughout the state. While regulations exist at the federal level for the growth of hemp, there are currently no federal regulations for the processing and manufacturing of cannabinoid hemp products, resulting in the cannabinoid hemp marketplace lacking basic consumer protections that are common in similar industries. There are published reports of cannabinoid hemp products that do not contain any cannabinoids but contain unspecified or inconsistent levels of THC – the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant – or are contaminated with harmful toxins.

The proposed regulations fill this regulatory void and create a system allowing for the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids in certain foods, beverages, topicalsand dietary supplement products, provided regulatory requirements are satisfied. All cannabinoid hemp products must be manufactured using good manufacturing practices based on the end product’s intended use. The label must contain the total amount of cannabinoids in the product, number of cannabinoids per serving, a nutritional or supplement fact panel, information about whether the product contains THC and appropriate warnings stating the product is not intended for children, its use may cause the failure of a drug test, the product has not been evaluated by the FDA and if pregnant or nursing, to consult a healthcare provider before use.

Additionally, cannabinoid hemp products are required to be laboratory-tested before entering the market, with testing for their cannabinoid profile, heavy metals, microbial impurities, mycotoxins, pesticides and residual solvents. This information is required to be retrievable by the consumer in the form of a QR code or corresponding link on the product label. Retailers are prohibited from selling inhalable cannabinoid hemp products, such as vape products, to consumers under 21 years of age. Processors are prohibited from making claims suggesting the product will diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “When you purchase a product, you should have confidence that what is stated on the label is actually in the product. With the increased production and use of cannabinoid hemp products, New York State could not wait for the federal government to act to institute basic consumer protections to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

Senator Jen Metzger said, “These regulations will provide much-awaited certainty for the hemp industry and offer a tremendous opportunity for our farmers while ensuring that we have the standards consumers need for a safe and high-quality product. As the Senate sponsor of the bill that created the regulatory framework for hemp, I want to thank the Governor for his continued leadership to advance the hemp industry and move the regulatory process forward, and I urge New York farmers and all stakeholders to review the regulations and provide input during the 60-day comment period.”

Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, “With these regulations, New York is creating a national model for consumer safety, requiring strict labeling and production standards. The inclusion of cannabinoid extracts in food and beverages will provide new economic opportunities for farmers, processors, manufacturers, and retailers throughout the state. I appreciate the Governor’s continued commitment to New York’s hemp industry and look forward to working with his administration as these regulations are finalized through the public comment period.”

For more information on New York’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program and to view the proposed regulations, please visit: https://health.ny.gov/regulations/hemp/.

Celebrating 50 Years Of NORML

By Michael O’Malley

NEW YORK: Today is a good day to wish NORML happy birthday. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hold its annual national conference today and tomorrow. NORML celebrates 50 YEARS OF ACTIVISM this year with a high impact, information rich webinar. This iconic cannabis brand and historic advocacy continues to roll on into the next fifty years of consumer protection, still strongly focused on legalization.

In the conference webinar, national NORML leaders are providing their members and chapter leadership, and other activists and supporters with facts and strategies to augment and enhance their activism in their states and spheres of influence.

NORML President Erik Altieri opened the festivities with a rousing address, followed by NORML Founder Keith Stroup greeting the conference in a taped segment. From there the conference proceeds over all the issues and contests facing the nation and the states.

Tune in, donate! Click here:

We need NORML now more than ever. They are busier than ever and having more success. There is still so much to do as this transition continues to roll across the country and around the globe.

Curved Papers supports NORML under a licensing agreement to produce 100% organic hemp NORML Curved Papers.

HELP MAKE MARIJUANA LEGAL.  BUY THESE ROLLING PAPERS!

“We’re very proud to be associated with NORML. This commercial program will help sustain the world-changing work that NORML does to protect personal freedom and reform our nation’s marijuana laws.”

Watch or join “Easy To Roll” Sundays at 4:20pm Eastern Time Sunday School for Rolling Joints.
Like and follow @curvedpapers on all platforms.

 

Curved Papers & CelebStoner Roll Out ‘Roach Clips’ Movie Contest

Curved Rolling Papers and CelebStoner website (a site devoted to chronicling the pot smoking shenanigans of famous entertainers) have teamed up to find the best joint rolling scenes in movie history.

Contestant need only post these scenes (found by searching YouTube and Vimeo) onto the CelebStoner website to enter. Most popular submissions will win free Curved Rolling Papers (Easy To Roll), t-shirts and other fun swag.

CelebStoner publisher Steve Bloom and Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley will announce the winners on September 22 (the Autumnal Equinox).

To start playing, begin here:

 

 

NY Senator Schumer Calls On USDA To Halt Hemp Reg Implementations

Schumer: Amend Hemp Regulations And Let Budding Industry Take Flight In Upstate NY

NEW YORK:  After successfully pushing for an extended comment period to allow Upstate New York hemp farmers to share their concerns with the final rule, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to delay the issuance of a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program final rule until 2022 and allow hemp growers and producers across the country and in Upstate New York to continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program regulations until that time. Schumer said with the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic across all sectors, implementing additional regulations would crush the budding hemp industry.

“When it comes to an industry as promising as industrial hemp in Upstate New York, the feds must do everything they can to nurture its potential. Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but the timing of new regulations is important and the current economic crisis must be considered,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m urging USDA to delay their issuance of a final rule until 2022 so the hemp industry across the country and in Upstate New York has a chance to grow and create good-paying jobs at a time when jobs are needed the most. Delaying new regulations will help pull New York along in the recovery process as the nation deals with the impacts of the pandemic.”

Allan Gandelman, President of New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association said, “There are over 700 registered hemp farmers across New York who would be negatively affected by the USDA’s Interim Final Rule on hemp. The costs and bureaucracy of implementing the new rules as written create unnecessary financial burdens on farmers and our state agencies. The existing hemp pilot program has been sufficient in making sure farmers are complaint with all testing and public safety protocols. We would like to see the pilot program extended until 2022 and the USDA modify the program to let hemp become a widespread agricultural commodity like Congress intended by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

Schumer explained, prior to the pandemic, the industrial hemp industry had begun to show significant growth in New York, adding a considerable number of good-paying jobs and bringing in significant revenue to the state, making it an indispensable crop in New York’s agricultural future. Operating under the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers have reported difficulty integrating the Interim Final Rules into their operations, Specifically, Schumer said, the cost of complying with the Rules has proven to be suffocating for the emerging industry. Compliance costs for reporting alone would be $17,363.40 according to USDA calculations, and testing would add over $700 per sample.

The senator said these costs are simply too high for the budding industry to shoulder at a time when New York and the entire country is experiencing an economic crisis. Additionally, Schumer noted, implementing the Interim Final Rules now, also requires states to alter their Pilot Program budgets to meet standards, something which states slammed with COVID-related issues simply cannot spare the time and resources for.

Schumer also pointed out in light of COVID concerns, the timing and testing outlined in the Interim Final Rules would likely push farmers to rush harvests and increase the number of people working in facilities at once, leading to higher risk of COVID transmission among workers. The senator says that delaying implementation until January 2022 and allowing states to continue operating under the 2014 Farm Bill will address these issues, protecting both the hemp industry in New York and farm workers from potential COVID spread.

Senator Schumer’s letter to USDA Secretary Perdue appears below:

Dear Secretary Perdue,

I write in regard to deep concerns that USDA’s U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program Interim Final Rules will hinder the advancement of the hemp industry and create significant compliance costs both for State Governments and producers. Despite these concerns being reflected in the numerous comments submitted on behalf of industry trade groups, businesses, and State Agriculture Departments during the extended public comment period, no significant changes were made. As you know, the 2018 Farm Bill removed federal regulatory restrictions from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and sales with the intent of developing a new agricultural commodity for United States farmers. The timing of implementation of the Interim Final Rules, especially during the COVID crisis, will create extreme disruption in this nascent industry. I ask that you delay the issuance of a final rule until January 2022 and allow states to continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program authority until then.

In New York, the industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably better paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future. However, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses explore the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty integrating the Interim Final Rules into their operations. Particularly in the current COVID climate, I see many farmers and processors in New York struggle with incorporating these changes into the existing state Pilot Programs. In a time when farmers and producers struggle with economic uncertainty, the implementation of the Interim Final Rules will create costs without the support of offsetting revenues. USDA calculated compliance costs for reporting alone of $17,363.40 with testing adding approximately an additional $714.50 per sample (see 7 CFR Part 990, 58537 and 58545).

These costs do not just impact businesses across the United States but also state budgets that must alter their Pilot Programs to meet the demands of the Interim Final Rules. With bandwidth completely consumed by COVID concerns, the state regulatory agencies cannot focus on implementation of the Interim Final Rules. At this point, only 19 states have approved plans in place and enforcement efforts will deal a significant economic blow to the industry.

Lastly, I have concerns that the Interim Final Rules will potentially create public health issues in our current COVID environment. As we move into harvest season, farmers will need to operate with as much certainty as possible but timing and testing requirements will likely create bottlenecks that will push farmers to rush harvests. The potential for greater numbers of people working in facilities to meet the rush may create opportunities for COVID to spread among farm workers.

The Interim Final Rules provide a first step in developing regulations for the hemp industry. The critiques from the comment period will provide USDA with areas to consider revisions that further encourage economic opportunity for farmers and producers. However, COVID creates hurdles for states and producers to comply with the Interim Final Rules. Under the circumstances, the Interim Final Rules will harm the very businesses we hoped to help with this new agricultural commodity. We can easily remedy this situation by delaying implementation until January 2022 and allow states to continue under the 2014 Farm Bill until then. This will allow USDA to address some of the more pressing regulatory critiques while giving states and producers additional time to come into compliance.

Once again, I appreciate your efforts to help establish guidelines to develop a thriving American hemp industry. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,