Medical cannabis companies in New York could source CBD from hemp farmers

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

New York’s hemp rules have been revised. The new rules permit medical cannabis companies to produce CBD products using the crops that they grow. The rule will apply for all farmers who cultivate hemp in New York. 

Moreover, New York’s updated hemp rules will enable patients to get their hands on CBD products for a cheaper price. This is according to state officials. Lower costs will come as a result of enabling the existing 10 licensed medical cannabis companies to purchase stock for local prices.

All hemp and plant-derived extracts must be cultivated in accordance with New York’s Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, which kickstarted in 2015.

New York’s hemp rules: Medical cannabis companies formerly restricted to producing their own CBD 

Prior to the announcement of New York’s updated hemp rules, medical cannabis companies were limited to producing CBD inside their own licensed facilities. As a result of this extra workload, patient costs were higher. 

New York’s rapidly developing hemp market has been stimulated by the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Effectuated with President Donald Trump’s signature, the bill legalized hemp that contains low traces of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Since hemp can grow with plenty of CBD, the CBD craze has gotten off to a good start across the U.S.

“Since its launch, the state’s hemp research program has seen tremendous interest from growers and processors, and this new regulation will provide our research partners with another market for their products,” said Richard Ball, who assumes the role of Commissioner for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Over 400 farmers in New York had cultivated close to 18,000 acres of hemp in early 2019. When compared to the fact that less than 100 growers had received state licenses just two years ago, hemp industry growth in the state has been impressive, to say the least.

“We support the continued growth of this emerging industry, which has opened the door to new opportunities in New York’s agricultural industry, as well as many other sectors,” Ball said.

New York’s hemp rules will simplify patient access to CBD

It was on Wednesday, November 6 that the state Department of Health announced new regulations for hemp. The Department provides oversight for the state’s medical cannabis program. The goal of updating hemp rules is to enhance access to medicinal CBD products for patients, as well as make the products more affordable.

“This is yet another example that will help improve the program for patients and registered organizations,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, as he discussed the hemp rules with reporters.

The news comes following years of expansion to New York’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. Thanks to the Department’s hard work, enrolment has climbed a few thousand since the program’s inception in 2016 to almost 110,000 today.

Federal restrictions slowing down New York’s hemp boom

Although the update to New York’s hemp rules has made a significant difference to patients and farmers across the state, obstacles have delayed the industry’s growth. 

In October, Sen. Charles Schumer prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better inform CBD market players of regulations, as a means of safeguarding their health and interests of consumers; the FDA has been slow in issuing guidance to industry players regarding CBD regulations. 

“CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it,” Schumer said.

At the current time, CBD has only been approved at medical grade for the treatment of severe types of epilepsy. The FDA has only approved one CBD-containing pharmaceutical product – Epidiolex from GW Pharmaceuticals – as a treatment for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, all CBD products – including those derived from hemp – will be heavily scrutinized by the FDA. State officials have revealed that the updated hemp rules for New York’s medical cannabis companies are subject to a 60-day public comment period. The rules were published in the State Register.