Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation intended to promote industrial hemp in the state.
Hemp is a variety of the same plant as marijuana, but is bred to contain a much lower level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The crop can be useful for a wide variety of industries, so much so that Cuomo in the past has said hemp could create a billion-dollar industry in the state.
The new legislation amends existing law to clarify the status of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity under New York Agriculture and Markets Law. It also creates an industrial hemp working group to advise the state on hemp research and policy.
Along with the legislation comes $10 million in state grant funding for two separate initiatives to grow industrial hemp research and economic development opportunities.
The first $5 million funds research into the production of industrial hemp in New York. The first program to launch from that effort, a $1 million collaboration between Cornell University and the state, solicited farmers for the 2017 growing season to plan hemp. The program expanded industrial hemp production in New York nearly 6,000 percent from 30 acres in 2016 to 2,000 this year, according to Cuomo’s office.
In the mid-Hudson region, SUNY Sullivan is partnering with the Monticello nonprofit Center for Discovery to attempt to grow hemp using biodynamic methods.
The state will also launch a $5 million Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund. The program, administered by Empire State Development, will provide up to $250,000 funding to businesses to help launch industrial hemp processing operations, including new construction and the purchase of equipment.