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Cannabis Law

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RELEASES NEW HEMP REGULATIONS

As with almost all areas of American society, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed ‘pause’ on anticipated regulatory changes to the New York State hemp industry.  December 2019 saw new hemp laws that split hemp permits into defined categories with more legislation regarding quality standards, labeling requirements, and other rules forthcoming , while March 2020 promised revisions to provisions regarding CBD-infused food and beverages. Still yet, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (which heads the state’s industrial hemp program) was supposed to issue its industrial hemp state plan for the 2021 growing season to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) pursuant to the current Farm Bill by November 1, 2020. None of these promises came to fruition as originally envisioned or expected.

Finally, however, the state has pressed play. On October 27, 2020, the NYS Department of Health (“DOH,” whose “Cannabinoid Hemp Program” is now in charge of hemp) released much anticipated proposed rules to regulate the processing, manufacturing, sale, and marketing of cannabinoid hemp products in the state. Once fully adopted, New York State will become home to arguably the most comprehensive hemp regulatory framework in the U.S. Highlights of the new proposed legislation include:

  • Vast and extensive definitions of hemp industry terms, including scientific terms (note that the definition of “cannabinoid” itself includes sixteen different phytocannabinoids, suggesting that the DOH realizes that CBD is not the only cannabinoid that needs regulating);
  • Different licensure and application requirements for cannabinoid hemp processors (including those who extract and/or manufacture cannabinoid hemp) and retailers—for example, cannabinoid hemp processor licenses are valid for two years, while retailer licenses are valid for one year;
  • Hemp licenses are now explicitly non-transferrable without prior approval from DOH;
  • All hemp processors are now required to maintain qualified third-party Good Manufacturing Practices certification for the duration of the license term, while all hemp products must also be tested according to federal laboratory testing standards (for example, there are now THC limits for various stages of the supply chain);
  • New York hemp product standards (more substantial regulations regarding this term is forthcoming);
  • New hemp packaging and labeling requirements, including specific concentration limits per serving and product, scannable QR codes that link to a certificate of analysis and a prohibition against packaging that is attractive to consumers under 18 years old; and
  • All hemp retailers must now hold a valid DOH license or they will be subject to non-compliance penalties, including fines and license revocation and even license ineligibility if the regulations are violated three times in a five-year period.

These draft regulations are now in a public comment period and are expected to be finalized and effective in January 2021.

Notably missing? Any regulations regarding cannabinoid hemp grower permits. Because New York State did not submit an industrial hemp state plan for the 2021 growing season to the USDA, all hemp growers looking to grow in 2021 must submit and receive a federal permit from USDA. This requirement is in addition to any state permits that may be needed if the same grower is also looking to process/manufacture and/or retail hemp products in New York State.

As always, it remains highly important to consult an attorney well versed in the ever-changing world of hemp prior to spending time, money, and effort in applying for the new licenses.

Jacobowitz & Gubits law firm remains committed to striving to provide sound legal navigation to those looking to wade through the ever-changing world of hemp as regulations multiply and intensify. You can learn more by visiting www.jacobowitz.com.

This is not intended to be legal advice.  You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.

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Marissa G. Weisis an Associate with the firm and practices Environmental Law, Land Use and Municipal Law.

law in addition to Cannabis and Hemp Law.  She can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.[/column]

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