ALBANY – On Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2014, New York became the 19th state in the U.S. to make the move toward growing industrial hemp.
The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D – Endwell) and Senator Tom O'Mara (R – Big Flats) and develops an agricultural pilot program to begin research on the multipurpose crop. It passed through both houses of the State Legislature last spring.
Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Feb. 7, 2014 and legalizes the growth of hemp for research. The research will be limited, for now, to colleges and universities and state departments of agriculture in states where it has been approved by law.
Many of New York's institutions of higher education have shown interest in taking part in the state's research program. Included in this list are Cornell, Binghamton University, SUNY – ESF in Syracuse, CUNY, and Paul Smith's College.
Hemp cultivation was previously banned under the Controlled Substances Act because it comes from the same plant as marijuana. Industrial hemp, however, should not be confused with marijuana. Industrial hemp and marijuana are genetically differing varieties of cannabis in much the same way that different breeds of canine are vastly dissimilar. It is impossible to extract a psychoactive drug from industrial hemp.
In 2012, retail sales from imported hemp products were approximately $500 million in the United States. Globally, hemp is used to produce a wide variety of products including oil, soap, paper, and rope. And due to its numerous health benefits to both humans and animals, it is also used in the production of foods such as beer, milk, cereal, and granola...