NY State’s New Rules For Hemp

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ALBANY — New York’s cannabinoid hemp industry, which produces and sells items like the CBD oils and salves that a growing number of the state’s residents use to calm anxiety or aid sleep, is facing stricter packaging, labeling and testing requirements starting this week.

While the new rules were adopted by the Cannabis Control Board in November, they included a delayed effective date for key provisions to allow time for cannabinoid hemp businesses to come into compliance with the new rules.

Changes include much stricter packaging guidelines, which require items like a nutritional fact panel and list of ingredients, the drug’s country and company of origin, and a bar code or QR code linking to a downloadable certificate of analysis. Cannabinoid hemp processors will also need to commission independent third-party laboratories deemed equipped to test for cannabis drug components as well as for substances such as pesticides, metals and mold.

Advocates for the state’s cannabinoid hemp industry think these regulations, though more onerous, will benefit the New York businesses that are aiming to sell in-state.

“A lot of the subpar products that we’ve seen in New York being sold at gas stations and all over the place are from out of state,” Allan Gandelman, president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, said when the new rules were approved. “Without these regulations, New York state inspectors had no way of pulling that stuff off the shelves.”

At the meeting in November, control board member Jen Metzger presented the rules that the board approved, and described an additional set of regulatory targets that is on a separate path through public comment periods.

She spoke highly of the agricultural pilot program that kicked off in 2015 to help launch industrial hemp growers across the state, but noted that hemp grown for the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant rather than for its other uses, such as fiber for fabrics and construction, needed to be placed in a different framework.

“The complexities of regulating the new crop and all of the potential cannabinoid products derived from that plant warranted a more robust regulatory approach,” Metzger said.

While less psychoactive strains of the cannabis plant have long been bred for a variety of purposes in other countries, the legal industry in the United States kicked off with a federal farm bill in 2014 which allowed states to operate pilot programs regulating hemp production.

The national industry was later flooded in 2018, when hemp — defined by regulators as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC — was removed from a federal list of controlled substances and labeled an ordinary agricultural commodity.