Hemp research bill signed into law

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Provision in US Farm Bill opens door for State to begin growing

With Governor Cuomo’s signature Wednesday, New York is the 19th state in the nation to set the framework for growing industrial hemp. The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tom O’Mara (A9140/S7047) creates an agricultural pilot program to research the multi-use crop. It passed both houses of the State Legislature last spring.

“This is an exciting first step for this crop,” Lupardo said. “Both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used to produce everything from textiles and building materials; to paper, food, and environmental products like biofuels. This research will help guide our farmers and producers when the federal government allows full-scale production.”

Section 7606 of the Agriculture Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama on February 7th, legalizes growth of hemp for research by state departments of agriculture or institutions of higher education in states where it has been approved by law. Many colleges and universities, including Cornell, Binghamton University, SUNY-ESF, CUNY and Paul Smith’s College, have expressed interest in participating in the state’s research program.

Hemp cultivation was previously banned under the Controlled Substances Act because it comes from the same plant as marijuana. However, industrial hemp and marijuana are genetically distinct varieties of cannabis and it is not possible to extract a psychoactive drug from hemp.

In 2012, retail sales in the United States from imported hemp products were estimated at $500 million. Hemp is used around the world to produce fabric, rope, paper, oil, soap, lotion and even food products such as granola, cereal, beer, and milk. It is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which gives it numerous health benefits to both humans and animals.