ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo is making a late-session push to boost the state’s budding hemp industry.
An Saturday the governor introduced a bill that would treat the plant more like other agricultural crops in New York. The bill is calling for the state’s agriculture law to include industrial hemp as an acceptable crop seed. This would require the state to come up with quality benchmarks that make sure the seed is adapted to the state’s climate and has low levels of THC. The legislation would also require the state’s economic-development branch to consider industrial hemp for research and business funding.
The bill is being sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) and Sen. Thomas O’Mara (R-Big Flats) who have pushed hemp as a potential cash crop for Southern Tier.
”Industrial hemp has proven its potential, especially in the Southern Tier, and this legislation removes artificial barriers for growth,” Cuomo said in a statement Sunday.
Hemp is a form of the cannabis plant that has low levels of THC and is used to make a variety of products, including fabrics, paper, food, oils and insulation.
The state Legislature voted in 2014 to allow 10 licenses to grow and research hemp in partnership with colleges and universities. Earlier this year, the state lifted the cap and allowed private organizations to research the product on their own.
Lawmakers could vote on the latest bill this week.