The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced this week it’s reopening the application period for farmers, businesses and universities to grow or process hemp through the state’s pilot program.
But this year, the state added a separate new category for the application that specifically permits processing hemp into cannabidiol — also known as CBD — oil, which has similar painkilling qualities as marijuana, but without psychotropic effects.
Applications are also available to grow industrial hemp, as well as to process hemp into grain and fiber.
The period to apply is open through Dec. 28, and people can find the applications on the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets website.
New York in 2017 expanded the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program to allow farmers, businesses and universities to obtain a license to grow and process industrial hemp.
The program is meant to allow growers and the state to learn about the benefits and potential risks of growing and processing hemp and its products.
Hemp is from the cannabis plant family — the same as marijuana — but contains insignificant levels of THC, the chemical that gets users high.
The market for hemp globally includes more than 25,000 products, ranging from things like clothing, to furniture, to nutritional supplements, among others. U.S. hemp product sales were estimated at $700 million in 2016, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service published in June.
“New York has an opportunity to lead industry growth by creating more opportunities for businesses to produce and manufacture (hemp),” according to a statement from the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Across New York state, about 3,500 acres of farmland are approved for industrial hemp research. That’s up from 2,000 acres in 2017.
New York state also established an industrial hemp research forum this year with the goal of establishing “New York as a national leader in industrial hemp research, production and processing, and transform New York’s agricultural economy,” according to the statement.
Under current U.S. drug policy, all varieties of cannabis are classified under Schedule I controlled substances — the same classification as heroin and ecstasy.
While the 2018 Farm Bill has yet to be voted on, it is expected to pass Congress later this month. The final version of the bill will likely make hemp and CBD oil federally legal.
The pilot program will continue to allow the state to research hemp and “its potential impact on manufacturing, job creation, and the profitability of farms across New York State,” the statement read.