Hemp bill sails through New York Senate

Hemp bill sails through New York Senate

green cannabis plant
Hemp Plants/Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

(The Center Square) – A bill that calls for New York to promote additional uses for the hemp grown in the state sailed through the state Senate on Tuesday and will now go to Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The Senate voted unanimously to pass S8496, sponsored by state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties. The bill would amend New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law by requesting the agricultural commissioner work with the state’s hemp work group and other stakeholders to consider how they can market the material.

Hemp is a plant that can be used for multiple purposes, including food, paper and fabric. While it is similar to marijuana, hemp plants have lower amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the high in marijuana products.

The 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed for hemp pilot projects, and four years later, Congress legalized growing hemp.

Proponents say hemp is a fast-growing plant that could be harvested for use in packaging and construction materials.

“The market for New York industrial hemp is still developing, and the state needs to take an active role in researching, identifying, and promoting hemp to industries that may incorporate it into their products,” Hinchey said in her justification memo for the bill. “For example, as the market for sustainable, biodegradable, nonpetroleum-based packaging grows, so do the opportunities for New York produced industrial hemp as an ingredient in these products.”

The Assembly’s version of the bill passed in late February.

According to Hemp Industry Daily, New York’s acreage devoted to hemp grew from 2019 to 2020. The number of outdoor acres used to grow hemp shot from 5,000 to 29,777. The number of acres trailed only Colorado and Kentucky. Meanwhile, the number of growers rose from 278 to 667.

In addition, New York has more than 9 million square feet of indoor space to grow hemp in 2020. Only Colorado had more.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hemp was planted in more than 54,000 acres across the country in 2021. The value of that product was $712 million.

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