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Conflicting Guidelines Sow Confusion For New York Hemp Farmers

P. Solomon Banda

Farmers in New York are concerned that the new framework for the hemp industry in the state will be at odds with interim federal guidelines.

David Falkowski of Bridgehampton grows hemp and produces CBD, a medicinal oil that soothes inflammation and anxiety, without high levels of the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, THC. 

Falkowski says the new state regulations will help New York expand the state’s hemp industry beyond its 130 certified hemp startups.

“I think really what this does is it makes hemp, the hemp industry grown up.”

Regulations will require standards and protections for licensing, permitting, manufacturing, selling hemp products, which is all run-of-the-mill for other retail and food production.

“I think this is just the first time in the modern world we are seeing a state require this for hemp products.”

But Falkowski says interim guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold farmers to a much stricter THC standard for the plant in the field.  

“The vast majority of hemp grown for high CBD under these new USDA draft rules here for sampling and testing compliance levels would be considered hot, or marijuana.”

And he says that could spell disaster for the state industry – and the farmer.

“It's really not [a] good thing for farmers. It raises the risk for crop loss because of it going hot. It dramatically complicates things. And possibly could make some of these farmers criminals and literally bringing back the War on Drugs, involving the DEA. It’s a mess.” 

The state will host a summit in January to help develop policies for the growing industry. 

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
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