There has never been a more exciting–or confusing time to be a New York hemp producer. Regulations are more fluid than ever. And as a New York based CBD company, our team at Medical Mike’s is laser focused on what comes next. But amidst the uncertainty for farmers and CBD companies like us, one fact is clear: New York supports hemp and CBD and wants to see the industry flourish.
So what are the latest regulations in New York for hemp farmers and CBD producers. And how did we get here? Let’s explore.
New York Hemp Production Regulations
2014 & 2018 Farm Bill
In 2014 the United States Congress passed the first Farm Bill, which allowed hemp to be grown on an approval basis for research purposes. In 2015, New York followed by establishing its own Industrial Hemp Pilot Program and has been growing the crop on a limited basis ever since.
In 2018 Congress revised the Farm Bill to pave the way for broad cultivation across the country. One year later, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) drafted the Interim Final Rule to lay the foundation for states like New York to establish large-scale production programs.
USDA’s Interim Final Rule
The Interim Rule included stringent procedures for cultivation, sampling, licensing, and testing. The program also set a legal threshold of .3% THC on all hemp crops, and included provisions for the destruction of plants that tested above the limit. The Rule gave states one year to draft their own domestic hemp programs to submit for approval.
While several states created hemp programs in the last year, New York joined top hemp producers like California and Oregon who did not. Citing its inability to meet the USDA’s restrictive demands while also protecting the financial needs of its 700 growers, New York sent a letter announcing that it would forfeit control after its Pilot Program expired at the end of October. The letter stated:
“Unless the 2014 Farm Bill is extended or the USDA otherwise agrees to change its requirements for the 2021 grow season, it appears that [New York] growers interested in cultivating an industrial hemp crop in 2021 will need to apply to USDA for a producer license.”
But just 30 days before the USDA’s Interim Final Rule was set to take effect, the organization announced last week it would extend the 2014 Farm Bill for another year to October 2021. While this is great news for most states, it puts unexpected pressure on New York.
The Latest Question for New York Hemp Producers
If the USDA’s Interim Final Rule is delayed, under what rules will New York Hemp Farmers operate after the state’s Pilot Program expires this month?
To get an answer, our team at Medical Mike’s reached out to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. State regulators said they’re working on it and will have an answer later this week.
But amidst the confusion, New York is still forging ahead with its plans to regulate the production and sale of CBD.
New CBD Regulations in New York
Until late last year, New York stayed relatively quiet about how to regulate hemp extracts such as CBD in products like skin salves, supplements, food and beverages. After all, technically CBD products are still under investigation by the FDA. But in the spirit of forward progress, New York decided to move ahead of the federal government to create its own Hemp Extracts Bill. Under the bill, The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for licensing CBD processors and CBD retail establishments starting January 1, 2021.
New York’s Hemp Extracts bill sets the following regulatory framework for CBD producers:
- Licenses. Growers, manufacturers and processors of hemp and hemp extract products including CBD must apply to New York State’s DOH for 2-year renewable licenses.
- Permits: Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers selling “cannabis products derived from hemp extracts” must also apply for a CBD permit. Qualifications for approval are weighted on parameters such as:
- Good moral character
- Hemp production experience
- Competency at delivering a quality product
Fingerprints of each researcher, principal, or officer of the license applicant (if requested by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets)
Inspections. The State may conduct inspections at CBD production facilities. Moreover, the licensee must make himself or herself available for these visits.
- Labeling & Packaging: All hemp extract products must be properly packaged and labeled with consumer well-being in mind. This includes avoiding medical claims, and adding warnings about potential negative health consequences. Product labels must also include:
- QR Codes
- Active cannabinoid concentration per serving size
- Number of servings per container
- The growing region, state or country (if not from the US)
Supplement panel with cannabinoid concentration and serving size
Pesticides: Licensed cannabinoid growers are prohibited from using pesticides. Additionally, all products must be extracted and manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing processes.
Sampling & Testing: CBD producers must submit samples to independent laboratories (approved by the Department of Health) for tests required by the State. The test results must be shared with the CBD permit holder.
Incentives: Hemp CBD farmers may also have access to new investment incentives.
New York’s Lack of Regulations on CBD in Food & Drinks
New York’s Hemp Extracts bill regulates CBD products like tinctures, lotions and salves. But the bill purposely leaves out rules for infused food and drinks. Though New Yorkers can find edible CBD products on shelves in certain stores throughout the state, the Department of Agriculture and Markets Department officially declared them illegal due to the ongoing investigation by the FDA. Moreover, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would not take any action on CBD in food and beverages until a special summit convened on the matter. Thanks to COVID-19 plans for a summit do not appear to be in the works.
On top of the lack of clarity surrounding allowable CBD products, hemp growers, processors, manufacturers and retailers are all also waiting for specific rules on how to implement the provisions of the Hemp Extract Bill.
For example, the Bill does not clearly lay out the full scope of acceptable hemp CBD products or the final list of packaging and labeling rules. The same goes for laboratory and testing requirements, which are not clearly defined in the bill.
We reached out to the New York State Department Health for an answer to this mind bender. They told us the DOH is still in the process of implementation and is working toward the goal of accepting new CBD hemp applications “early 2021.”
New CBD Regulations in Limbo
But as New York’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program comes closer to its expiration date, hemp producers are frustrated with the lack of clarity. The industry at large is skeptical the DOH will implement rules in time to allow for a 60-day comment period and still meet the January 1st deadline.
The Bottom Line
While we wait for New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets to issue guidance on the future of Hemp in New York, our team at Medical Mike’s is always one step ahead of regulations.
- We only work with organic hemp farmers in New York and Vermont. That means we never use hemp that was grown with pesticides.
- Moreover, we thoroughly vet our extractors and inspect their facilities to ensure they’re adhering to good manufacturing practices.
- Finally, we triple check our work by contracting with verified third party laboratories to test our hemp CBD oils and salves.
- Through testing, we ensure the concentration of CBD listed on our labels is correct. We also guarantee our product is free of all harmful contaminants.
We’re ready for any regulations New York state may throw at us, because quality and safety always come first at Medical Mike’s.