SALEM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Upstate New York’s first legal Hemp Harvest is in the barn! But not without some worries by farmers, like Meg Southerland, who’ve taken the Hemp Cash-Crop Plunge.
“Well, for me, this first year, it’s been a learning curve. And I’ve loved it.”
Southerland harvested 3,000 Cherry Wine variety Hemp plants on her produce farm in eastern New York’s Washington County. The plants have little to no THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes you high, but they’re loaded with cannabinoids of which one, Canabidiol or CBD, is in strong demand as a medical substance said to ease pain. However, despite federal and state approval to grow Hemp, Southerland is wary of its future because of a lack of regulations.
“We test the plants in the field to make sure we know the CBD percentage and know the THC level.”
Southerland’s Hemp hangs drying in an old K-Mart store in Binghamton. Her buyer and advisor is a Binghamton Hemp entrepreneur, Kaelan Castetter, supervising the processing and extraction of the Hemp cannabinoids for use in CBD oils for sale at a growing number of retail shops throughout the state.
“How are we going to test it? How are we going to differentiate more control, say medical use of adult use, or cannabis, and not over regulate the Hemp industry?”
Castetter recently attended New York Cannabis Insider Live, an Albany conference, where people from all over the state are learning how to get into the burgeoning multi-billion dollar hemp industry…some hoping to move into marijuana too when it’s legalized in New York. Their first objective, says Cannabis law specialist, Rob DiPisa, of New York’s Cole-Schotz Cannabis Law Group, is to get their business plan organized.
“I’d say the biggest challenge and the most common legal advice is get their corporate entities in order, get their banking in order, and find real estate.”
Despite its growth, state and federal laws are still holding up the progress of Hemp. Producers cannot deposit money in banks, buy crop insurance, cross state lines.
And, there are no standard regulations on testing, potency, labeling, dosage and infusing Hemp into moisturizers, and edible and drinkable products like wine, lip balm, gummies, and skin cream.
But, they’re coming. The state has so much confidence in Hemp that it certified the first Cannabis 101 college course for students at SUNY Morrisville, just now wrapping up their first semester growing and harvesting a plant that would have gotten them arrested a year ago. Nicole Johnson of Long Island is a student.
“I came to Morrisville with the hopes that New York was going to be moving forward with Hemp and cannabis cultivation in general. And, the timing was absolutely perfect.”
Their professor is Kelly Hennigan, who, along with the school’s Horticulture department, helped organize the state’s first college course in Cannabis.
“Some of the people in this class are concerned with chemical properties of the cannabis plant. Some of the others want to be growers. Some want to work in sales. Some have plant science aspirations. Breeding, tissue culture, stuff like that.”
Like the hundreds of New Yorkers who’ve already obtained Hemp growing licenses, the Morrisville students are waiting to see how new regulations allow them to move forward as growers, chemists, analytical testers, and in sales, marketing, and finance. Senator Schumer has advocated FDA guidelines on Hemp for food and drinks, which would inspire Governor Cuomo to finally sign the Hemp Extract Bill into law. When that happens, Professor Hennigan expects the Morrisville program to really take off.
“I’m waiting just like everybody else here is to see how the laws are written so we can look to see where our opportunities will be.”