Lupardo Urges NY’s House Delegation to Sponsor Hemp Bill

Senate included bill in its version of US Farm Bill

Albany, NY – In a letter recently sent to New York’s members of Congress, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo urged House members to become sponsors of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. She also thanked Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their sponsorship and support. The legislation would recognize industrial hemp as a legal agricultural commodity by removing it from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act. Along with the letter, Lupardo included a copy of a recently passed Assembly resolution that encourages the federal hemp bill’s passage.

“New York is a national leader in industrial hemp production,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who has championed hemp in NYS and introduced the resolution. “This crop is creating new opportunities for our farmers and has enormous potential for processors and manufacturers. While the state’s hemp industry has grown quickly, current federal law could hinder future growth.”

Industrial hemp has been illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act since it is part of the cannabis family of plants. However, it contains only trace amounts of THC – marijuana’s psychoactive chemical – and cannot be used as a recreational drug. The Hemp Farming Act would remove this classification. The US Senate recently included the legalization of industrial hemp in its version of the US Farm Bill, but the House did not. Advocates are hopeful that the final agreed upon 2018 Farm Bill will contain this provision.

The 2014 Farm Bill helped open the door for cultivation by including language to allow the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes in state’s that created such a program. Later that year, legislation introduced by Lupardo and Sen. Tom O’Mara was passed and signed into law creating the NYS Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program. Since then, Lupardo and O’Mara have passed additional bills to clarify the scope of the program and allow for the transportation, processing, sale, and distribution of hemp. The state has also supported the industry with grants for processors and researchers, a streamlined approach to seed acquisition, and recognition of industrial hemp as a legitimate agricultural commodity.

The stalk, seeds, flowers, and roots from hemp plants can be used to make food products, nutritional supplements, building materials, textiles, paper, and more. Promising research is also underway at Binghamton University regarding medicinal applications. There is an estimated $1 billion national market for hemp, yet each year American companies are forced to import millions of dollars' worth of seed and fiber from China, Canada, Europe, and other countries. While hemp products can legally be manufactured in the United States, American farmers are not allowed to grow and supply the needed raw materials. According to a recently released report, retail sales for hemp products were estimated at $820 million in the United States in 2017, and these figures are growing each year.