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New York’s hemp/CBD industry ‘begs’ Cuomo to issue rules so it can get to work

Beak & Skiff Hemp House

The industrial hemp harvest is underway across New York state, and much of it can be turned into the oils that fuel the growing legal trade in CBD-infused products like tinctures, lotions and salves.

But the state regulations and licenses that allow the hemp/CBD businesses to operate legally expire at the end of October. New guidelines and license procedures are “sitting on Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo’s desk” one hemp industry leader says, but there’s no sign they’ll be issued soon.

With 700 hemp growers across the state, producing hundreds of thousands of pounds destined for more than 100 in-state processing facilities this fall, the time is growing short.

“It’s going to be a disaster if they have to sit on this much hemp,” said Allan Gandelman, a Cortland hemp grower and processor who is also president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. “We need these regulations now.”

Gandelman, owner of hemp company Head + Heal in Cortland, joined Eddie Brennan, president of Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, on Tuesday to call for the regulations that were promised in the state Hemp Extracts bill that Cuomo signed into law late last year. (Beak & Skiff earlier this year jumped into the hemp extract processing business).

It’s important, they said, for the many growers and processors, and for the hundreds of related business that take the finished extracts to produce the tinctures, salves and other consumer products.

Similar media events calling for the release of the rules were held today across the state, in Binghamton, Buffalo, New York City and elsewhere. The events were held as part of National Hemp Action Day.

The frustration for the hemp growers and processors stems from the fact that they succeeded in getting a bill that broadly outlines the rules for the industry passed through the state Legislature and approved by the governor.

But the specific rules need to be issued now so there’s time for the 60-day comment period and application process, Gandelman said. The law provides for the new licenses and permits to be issued starting Jan. 1.

“For all (that) to happen from now until January 1 seem unlikely,” Gandelman said.

The law sets out procedures for the licensing of industrial hemp growers and extract manufacturers and establishes what are likely the nation’s strictest testing and labeling requirements. The bill was approved by state lawmakers last year in the wake of their failure to approve a bill legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana.

Hemp is a species of cannabis, like marijuana, but does not produce as much THC, the compound that creates the marijuana ‘high.” CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from hemp is a non-psychoactive compound that is touted by its advocates for health benefits.

The state’s growers and processors have been operating for the past few years under a temporary state-sanctioned research program. It expires Oct. 31 — and the permits and licensing expire with it.

Without the new regulations in place, the hemp industry would be in “a gray area,” Brennan said. That’s especially troublesome, because of the nature of the business. There is “an unfortunate stigma” with hemp, THC and CBD, Gandelman said.

The unprocessed hemp contains just a trace of THC, and the finished extract that is used for products like lotions and salves contains less than the 0.3% THC that makes it legal under federal law, Brennan said. But during the processing and extraction, the percentage can rise temporarily to more than 3%.

“That means, temporarily, we’re dealing with a narcotic,” he said.

That’s just one of the reasons processors like Beak & Skiff and Head + Heal want clear regulations.

Another is that without strong New York state regulations, the CBD market is flooded with out-of-state products that may be processed to lower standards with fewer regulations, Brennan and Gandelman said. They may contain more THC than allowed, for example, or perhaps be laden with heavy metals, they said.

“There are rogue producers and possible unsafe products out there,” Brennan said. The goal of the Hemp Extracts bill in New York was to establish strict guidelines that could make the state’s hemp industry among the best in the country, he said.

“Not a lot of industries out there say they want more regulation,” Brennan said. “But we’re begging, ‘Please regulate us.’ “

If and when Cuomo’s administration does set out new rules and guidelines, there is still one area that will not be covered: The Hemp Extracts law as signed does not specifically allow CBD to be added to food and beverages.

Though it is possible to find CBD in food and beverages on the market, the state’s Agriculture & Markets department has declared them illegal, based on current guidelines from the federal Food & Drug Administration.

In signing the Hemp Extracts law last year, Cuomo said he would defer action on food and beverage with CBD until a “summit” on the hemp/CBD industry he hoped to convene in the spring. The coronavirus pandemic seems to have derailed that.

Beak & Skiff had a first-hand experience with the food and beverage issue: It had planned to release a CBD-infused Cold Brew Coffee product last year, but had to pull it after the Ag & Markets ruling last summer.

“We’re in this position where you can find something on a shelf that we are technically not allowed to make,” Brennan said.

State Health Department spokesperson Jill Montag responded to a question about the new regulations with this statement: “The New York State Department of Health is finalizing a comprehensive set of regulations to launch the hemp industry in NYS . These regulations will outline the necessary requirements for licensure, processing and retail sale of cannabinoid hemp for human consumption (i.e. CBD products), which includes but is not limited to labeling, testing and advertising standards.”

Eddie Brennan, president of Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, joined by Allan Gandelman of Cortland, president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, during a media event to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue new regulations for the hemp industry. They are in the Beak & Skiff Hemp House in the town of Onondaga, used to research and process hemp into usable oils and extracts for commercial products like salves, tinctures and lotions.

Don Cazentre writes for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at [email protected], or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.

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New York’s hemp/CBD industry ‘begs’ Cuomo to issue rules so it can get to work Beak & Skiff Hemp House The industrial hemp harvest is underway across New York state, and much of it can be

NY extends hemp pilot program, giving cannabis industry legal ‘breathing room’

Beak & Skiff Hemp House

New York’s hemp and cannabis industry, facing a potential shutdown at the end of the month, has been given life for another year.

The state’s two-year-old hemp pilot program will be extended through the end of September 2021, giving the industry “some breathing room,” according to Allan Gandelman, president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association.

The program had been scheduled to expire Oct. 31, potentially leaving the 700 hemp growers and 100 processors across the state in legal limbo, without valid operating permits.

The extension is welcome, but still leaves the cannabis industry in a “gray area,” said Gandelman, who is also owner of Head + Heal, a hemp grower and processor in Cortland. “At least now there’s some peace of mind, so hemp farmers can sleep at night.”

But the state’s cannabis industry, best known for helping supply CBD-infused products, is still looking for a permanent set of rules and regulations. The broad outline for the industry was included in a bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law late last year, but the specifics and permit process have not been defined.

“In this industry, I get used to living permanently in a gray area,” Gandelman said. Last month he joined in a statewide campaign asking Cuomo to issue the specific regulations.

That still hasn’t happened. Instead, the decision by the state Department of Agriculture & Markets extends the current rules, which came into effect after the approval 2018 federal farm bill. That bill legalized the production of industrial hemp. The state’s pilot program authorizes “research” in the growing of hemp and the processing of its components into consumer products.

Hemp is a species of cannabis, like marijuana, but does not produce as much THC, the compound that creates the marijuana ‘high.” CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from hemp is a non-psychoactive compound that is touted by its advocates for health benefits and is used in products like salves, tinctures and ointments. Under federal law, the extract used in those products must contain less than 0.3% THC.

At issue now is a lack of consensus between state regulators and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to proceed. Under the 2018 farm law, the state is required to submit a plan to the USDA in order to maintain authority over the hemp industry.

In a letter to the state’s hemp growers in August, New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball wrote, “It is the (state Ag & Markets) Department’s view that many of the (federal) requirements concerning the scope and timing of sampling and testing, the disposal of non-compliant plants, and reporting are unrealistic and impose unreasonable burdens on growers and any state interested in administering a compliant program.”

In his letter, Ball also said the state would ask the USDA to extend the existing program into 2021 if an agreement could not be reached.

Gandelman credited U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer with helping broker the extension and the Ag & Markets department for following through.

Now, Gandelman said, attention turns back to state’s existing Hemp Extracts law, and the regulations needed for growers and processors to operate under it.

That law sets out procedures for the licensing of industrial hemp growers and extract manufacturers and establishes what are likely the nation’s strictest testing and labeling requirements. The bill was approved by state lawmakers last year in the wake of their failure to approve a bill legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana.

The state’s hemp industry welcomed the strict requirements, arguing they could elevate New York’s cannabis products to a higher quality and bar inferior out-of-state products.

Don Cazentre writes for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at [email protected], or follow him at NYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

Disclaimer

Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20).

© 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.

Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site.

NY extends hemp pilot program, giving cannabis industry legal ‘breathing room’ Beak & Skiff Hemp House New York’s hemp and cannabis industry, facing a potential shutdown at the end of the