As New York prepares for the imminent launch of legal adult-use marijuana sales, the governor has signed a bill aimed at expanding the state’s hemp market by promoting collaborative partnerships to identify more opportunities to utilize the crop and its derivatives for packaging, construction and other purposes.
Bill sponsor Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D) announced on Tuesday that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) approved her legislation late last month. It would amend a section of New York’s agriculture law that deals with hemp economic development, mandating that the agriculture commissioner consult with additional partners on ways to incorporate hemp products into business operations throughout the state.
Specifically, it calls for the commissioner to “consult and cooperate with” the New York State Hemp Workgroup and industry stakeholders “that currently use, or may potentially use, industrial hemp in their products, to develop and promote the use of hemp by businesses for purposes such as packaging, construction, and other uses,” according to a summary.
Prior to the bill’s being enacted, the law gave the commissioner discretion to engage in those partnerships “to the extent” that they believe “it to be necessary.”
The section is now expanded to include hemp “packaging” as one of the research, funding and business development goals for those partnerships. That’s in addition to food, fiber, cannabinoid content and construction materials like hempcrete.
“Hemp is the material of the future, and positioning New York as a leading producer of the world’s industrial hemp supply is a winning strategy for fighting the Climate Crisis, bringing large-scale economic development to New York’s rural communities, and unlocking new revenue sources to put our farmers in a better financial position,” Hinchey said in a press release on Tuesday.
“I’m proud that my hemp bill has been signed into law, directing our state to seek strategic collaborations to help us usher in a new era of manufacturing power, product creation, and rural economic development around an industry that is nearly untapped around the world,” she said.
The justification section of the legislation says that “New York is a leader in the cultivation and processing of hemp, especially for cannabinoid hemp.”
“The market for New York industrial hemp is still developing and the state needs to take an active role in researching, identifying, and promoting hemp to industries that may incorporate it into their products,” it says. “This legislation will encourage renewed focus by the State to work with growers, processors and businesses that are end users to expand market opportunities.”
The bill cleared the legislature in May. It’s one example of how the senator has worked to promote hemp as an environmentally sustainable alternative to other materials and support the burgeoning industry.
Hinchey also filed legislation in February that would promote recycling in the marijuana industry once retail sales officially launch.
That bill would require cannabis shops to apply a $1 deposit for any marijuana products sold in single-use plastic containers and also reimburse consumers for that fee if they return the container.
The senator is also behind a separate bill filed last year that would prioritize hemp-based packaging over synthetic plastics for marijuana products.
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In another temporary win for hemp stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it is delaying enforcement of a rule requiring hemp to be tested at laboratories certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to “inadequate” capacity of such facilities.
Meanwhile, New York marijuana regulators released guidance last week for adult-use retailers that are interested in providing cannabis delivery services, setting the stage for the first sales even before licensees have storefronts—and allowing for deliveries via bikes and scooters as well as motor vehicles.
The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) published the new guidance weeks after announcing the approval of the first Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees, indicating that the first recreational sales are imminent.
Last month, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) selected the first 36 dispensary licenses along with a package of rules for the industry—a major development that came just days after officials chose 10 teams of firms to build out about 150 turn-key storefront facilities for the social equity marijuana retailers to operate out of once the market officially launches.
Most of the newly licensed business will be run by justice-involved people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, while others will be operated by nonprofit organizations that have a history of helping people reenter society after having been incarcerated.