Although growing hemp in the U.S. has been illegal for decades, there are nearly a dozen states currently allowed to carry out industrial hemp farming for research and/or commercial purposes. Will New York be the next state hopping into the cultivation of marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin? It appears to be possible.
On Feb. 7, President Obama signed the new Farm Bill into law, which included an amendment that, according to the bill, “defines industrial hemp as distinct and authorizes institutions of higher education or state departments of agriculture in states where hemp is legal to grow for research or agricultural pilot programs.”
New York’s own researchers at Cornell University and the State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry, who have already expressed interest in the cultivation of industrial hemp, are hoping that New York will follow in the footsteps of the warm, tropical state.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Thomas O’Mara will be responsible for proposing the new bill in New York, which will not only seek to legalize the growth of industrial hemp, but it’s also poised to prepare the state and its farmers for the possibility of a different trade.
“If we’re going to begin a whole new industry, we should get a handle on what the proper growing conditions are [and] what parts of the state would work best,” stated Lupardo. “It would give us a huge jump on states when this becomes legal for production.”
Since industrial hemp cultivation was banned in 1937, citizens have been unable to grow hemp in America, like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson once did. However, the imported retail sales of hemp products were reported to be hovering around the $580 million mark in the U.S. in 2013, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
As O’Mara has stated, he believes that a pilot program makes for a sensible opportunity to establish a foundation in New York for the production of hemp in the near future. O’Mara and Lupardo’s outlook for hemp in New York appears to be focused on diversifying and strengthening the state’s agricultural industry, while hoping that it generates revenue and creates jobs.
“This is another [potentially] lucrative option for our family farms,” said Lupardo. “Hemp has the potential to be a new opportunity for our emerging agricultural industry. Both its stalk and seed can be used for textiles, building materials, paper, food and environmental products like biofuel.”
According to the New York Farm Bureau, this new bill is capable of positioning the state of New York as a leader in hemp production.
Has your state begun research and industrial hemp cultivation? Tell us in the comments below!