New York’s Governor Backs Industrial Hemp Expansion

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo - Industrial Hemp
Image: Official New York State Portal

As part of his 2017 State of the State speech, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has committed to authorizing more locations to research, cultivate and process hemp.

“We will position New York at the forefront of a growing agricultural sector that is ripe with economic opportunity, and capitalize on our agricultural assets to provide farmers with top-notch resources enabling them to grow the hemp industry for decades to come,” said Governor Cuomo.

Additionally, the Governor stated he will host the first-ever Industrial Hemp Summit in the Southern Tier. The Southern Tier consists of counties west of the Catskill Mountains along the northern border of Pennsylvania.

The Summit will bring together manufacturers, farmers, researchers and other stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities to accelerate the state’s industrial hemp industry and boost New York’s agricultural economy.

Currently, hemp farming in New York is very restricted due to the nature of the USA’s Farm Bill (Agricultural Act of 2014); the legislation the New York program is operating under. Section 7606 of the Bill only allows for universities and state departments of agriculture to grow the crop.

As recently as September, only Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and JD Farms in Eaton, Madison County were in receipt of a license to participate in the pilot program. The latter was permitted as a result of a partnership with Morrisville State College.

There is also a limit to the number of hemp sites allowed in New York State under current laws – just 10. Governor Cuomo intends removing the limit in order to “provide more opportunities for businesses to start-up and grow.” Private farms will be authorised to work with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to commence research and begin growing industrial hemp.

Further details from Governor Cuomo’s speech can be viewed here.

The Governor is also a solid supporter of medical cannabis. The state’s State’s program kicked off in January last year after the Governor’s endorsement of the Compassionate Care Act. Prior to that in November 2015, Governor Cuomo signed two bills to expedite the availability of “emergency medical marijuana” to qualifying patients.