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Amid Federal Hemp Regulation Delay, N.Y. Extends Growing Season

P. Solomon Banda

New York state will continue its hemp growing season through 2021, after the federal government decided to delay new regulations that the state found “unrealistic.”

David Falkowski is a Long Island hemp grower. He said the USDA rules almost made him quit.

“The USDA framework for testing, total compliance timelines, potential disposal, potential criminal charges if things go hot over limits, issues regarding labs and analytics — it was very scary, and really increased the risk, both economically and you know, for crop loss,” he said.

New federal rules have a stricter definition of what’s considered legal hemp. The rules said a crop that contains more than point-three percent of the chemical, THC, would be considered marijauna. That’s an illegal drug.

Those rules have been put off until the 2022 growing season.

Farmers say they can’t control the amount of THC a plant produces.

Allan Gandelman is with the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. He says the new rules might have gotten farmers in trouble with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“We have another year where we actually feel safe and growing hemp in New York State. A lot of the worry around the new program was the DEA coming in. And if you have a crop that might test a little bit above 0.3% you can be held criminally accountable for that,” Gandelman said.

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.