This article is a sample from the Green State NY newsletter. Sign up here, and you can receive the latest news in your inbox every Tuesday.
After its first two meetings, in which the nascent Cannabis Control Board focused on New York’s medical marijuana program, all eyes were on hemp in meeting No. 3.
Board member and former state Sen. Jen Metzger gave a brief history of the cannabinoid hemp industry, and hinted at what future changes might look like under the new agency structure. Then, the board announced it would adopt a series of changes to the program’s rules, which were more than two years in the making.
In 2019, the Legislature passed a bill which set the stage to update the cannabinoid hemp program, impose stricter regulations for testing and packaging, and pull it under the state Department of Health, while the broader hemp market for things like textiles and construction materials would remain under the Department of Agriculture and Markets. The bill was signed into law by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year.
It was the first step toward stricter regulations for the cannabinoid hemp industry, which is responsible for increasingly popular products like the CBD oils and salves currently sold in many New York farmers markets, gas stations and smoke shops.
But while the stricter regulations sat in the wings, local processors who had upped their practices early started to worry that the industry was becoming a free-for-all, especially for retailers selling products from out-of-state, many of which clearly boast that they contain “CBD” — but don’t say much else.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is only one of the cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp for sale across the state. But a notably absent derivative in the hemp marketplace is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. While THC is naturally occurring in all cannabis varieties, “hemp” is defined in the U.S. as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent of it.
Chris Alexander, who leads the Office of Cannabis Management, made another limit clear during the board meeting. A compound known as delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol or “delta-8”, which can be synthesized in a lab from hemp-derived CBD, is off-limits for cannabinoid hemp license holders due to its psychoactive effects which mimic those of naturally occurring THC.
Meanwhile, adult-use cannabis hopefuls are still waiting for details on what licensing in their branch of the cannabis regulation trifecta will look like.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been seeing on shelves. Keep writing in with your questions and thoughts!
– Rebekah F. Ward ([email protected])