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Cuomo Signs Bill Boosting State's Fledgling Hemp Industry

Hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, is cultivated for its tough fibers, which are used to make cordage, fabric, biofuel and many other things. This photo shows plants being grown for animal food.
Hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, is cultivated for its tough fibers, which are used to make cordage, fabric, biofuel and many other things. This photo shows plants being grown for animal food. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The state’s fledgling hemp industry got a big boost Friday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing the transportation, processing and sale of the plant.

Hemp, a non-narcotic variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, is grown for its tough fibers, which are used to make cordage, yarn and fabric.

According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, and Sen. Tom O’Mara, R,C,I-Big Flats, the measure only affects hemp grown under the state’s pilot research program.

It will allow universities and partner farmers to, they said, “study and establish business and economic opportunities that will lay the groundwork for a fully fledged agricultural industry once the crop is fully legalized by the federal government.”

Lupardo said that “seeds were planted in July and plants that are harvested this fall will now be able to be processed and sold as a result of this legislation."

O’Mara said the new industry has the potential to “diversify (the state’s) agricultural economy, generate revenue and create jobs.”

The pilot program’s regulations were finalized this year and the first license was issued to JD Farms in upstate Madison County.

The Eaton farm, Lupardo said, is operating under a license awarded to Morrisville State College.

JD Farms’ Dan Dolgin said he and the other owners were “really excited” to see the bill signed into law.

The bill, he said, makes it possible for license holders to “able to participate in the marketplace as credible growers, manufacturers and distributors of tangible product cultivated in New York soil.”

Now growers can negotiate prices with buyers and produce “statistically relevant data” about the marketplace that other farmers and institutions can use, Dolgin explained.

According to the politicians’ statement, both the stalk and the seed from the hemp plant can be used to make textiles, building materials, biodegradable plastics, insulation, paper, animal feed and biofuels.

It is also a source of cannabidiol, a chemical compound used in medical marijuana applications, and is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, they said.

Retail sales from hemp products imported into the United States in 2015 were estimated at $600 million, the politicians said.

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