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/.

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,

Hemp Crops Coming To New York As Early As Spring?

NEW YORK: The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has developed proposed regulations to govern experimental growing of a cultivar of cannabis, the plant most known today as the source of marijuana. Industrial hemp, as it’s sometimes known, has too little of the active ingredient  tetrahydrocannabinol, often referred to as THC, to produce a recreational high yet is seen as having enormous potential.

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.

Two state lawmakers from the Southern Tier sponsored bills to get trial plantings started: Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, and Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Elmira.

“We are on the frontier of a major new industrial crop, and that’s why I’ve been pushing New York to get out in front of it,” Lupardo said.

Federal law was changed in the 2014 national farm-policy bill to allow states to permit hemp research. Lupardo and O’Mara sponsored bills in New York to do just that. The measure was adopted with near-unanimous support, but rules governing the experiments were not adopted in time for the 2015 growing season.