New York hemp growers, processors decry delayed CBD rules

A group of hemp growers and processors in New York is calling on the state Department of Health to release regulations so that hemp and CBD businesses can make business decisions.

According to a letter from the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association to state health regulators, legislation regulating hemp in New York State “provided a much-needed framework for the production and sale of hemp products while establishing important consumer protections.”

But hemp farms and business are still waiting for details, more than a month after that law was enacted.

Hemp farmers are holding stockpiles of unprocessed biomass from the 2019 season. And because of regulatory uncertainty, many have decided not to plant hemp this year, the association said.

Currently the state has 11 processors, and 64% of those say they have excess production capacity.

However, according to a recent association survey, 50% of the CBD processor license holders that are currently not operating in the state “cited concern or confusion about regulations as the main reason for not entering the market.”

“Simply expanding processing capacity will not solve the problem without concrete regulations that the industry and broader market can depend upon.”

Meanwhile, products from out of state continue to be sold in New York without the standards codified in the legislation and pending regulations. Releasing regulations would level the playing field for New York hemp growers and businesses, the association said.

While the bill was enacted in May, the provisions – which establish labeling and manufacturing standards; establish rules and regulations for flower, vape and beverage products; create a licensing structure for retailers and manufacturers; and ensure consumer safety – will not be enforced until January, according to Castetter Sustainability Group in Binghamton, New York.

State health regulators say they are working with the agriculture department “to shortly release a comprehensive set of regulations” that would implement rules according to the federal 2018 Farm Bill and state legislation, according to Hemp Grower.

Industry members nationwide have continued to voice frustration with a lack of on CBD products from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which established its CBD working group and began evaluating the substance for regulation in May 2019.

The FDA has continued to stress that it needs scientific data about the potential health effects of CBD on humans before it can safely provide guidance.

A third-party consumer research study, meant to help gather liver safety data that the FDA needs to move forward with regulation, is set to begin in July, with an aim to provide its findings before the end of 2020.